Nov 12, 2014
Immigration is a hot-button issue the world over, and especially in the United States. Getting even more specific, Texas has a reputation for being a sort of battlefield for immigration, particularly from Mexico or those traveling from other countries through Mexico to enter the U.S.
In many cases, the issue is political, with both major political parties in the country taking their own unique stance. That said, what went on recently when the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released undocumented immigrants into the public in a bid to save funds, is being denounced largely by both sides.
The department, which works to track down undocumented immigrants and goods coming into the U.S., has detainment facilities which take in and release tens of thousands of detainees each year. Recently, 2,000 immigrants were released, along with a statement that many feel misled people about the danger associated with those being sent back out into the public.
Claiming it would save money by releasing low risk detainees, what ICE actually ended up doing was letting some serious offenders back out onto the streets. Some of those released, it’s now been revealed, had violent criminal charges and convictions including sexual assault, kidnapping, homicide, and more. This all came to light when an Iowa senator, Chuck Grassley, submitted a records request that included details on those released, including the zip codes where they were immediately after release.
In a letter following the uproar, an ICE official, Thomas. J. Winkowski, stated that a new policy had been instated that would require appropriate senior level approval before any detainees with violent criminal histories were allowed to be released.
Of course, it’s a bit strange to many that such a policy wasn’t already in place, given the potential implications of releasing criminals back into society, especially on the premise of saving money.
This does little to help ease racial and immigration tensions in Texas, a sometimes literal battleground for the cause. Unfortunately, the state finds itself often in an interesting conundrum: It’s a place with many conservative, older style social and political views, but also one of the top destinations of immigrants coming to the U.S. This combination sometimes manifests in violence and tension that borders (no pun intended) on racism and bigotry. On the other side of things, many Americans state that it’s about protecting their way of life and the areas in which they raise their children, which they fear, for better or for worse, may be slipping away from traditional Americana.
According to ICE records, these 2,200 detainees actually make up a small portion of the 35,000+ per year who are released from their facilities. In 2013, for example, a total of 36,007 “criminal aliens” were released, with nearly 88,000 convictions between them. Of course, the number of convictions amongst those in a minority can also be suspect, especially given suspicion amongst officers in a border state. Some argue that cases which would be dismissed or never charged in the first place have very different outcomes when the defendant is non-white.