Homeland Security Required to Release Convicted Criminals by Supreme Court 


In a press release dated September 13, 2017, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)informed the public that they are issuing visa sanctions against certain countries (Guinea, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Eritrea) who do not assist in issuing travel documents to their citizens in the U.S.  The Department of Homeland Security noted that some, or many, of these foreign nationals are convicted criminals. What they fail to mention, however, is that all of these foreign nationals have completed their criminal sentences and were already released by the jailing authorities until DHS grabbed them to try to deport them.

Several years ago, the U.S.Supreme Court said that the DHS cannot imprison foreign nationals with a deportation order indefinitely. The Supreme Court guidelines are that imprisoning a person for more than six months while trying to deport them, is unreasonable. The logic, of course, is that they already served their time for their offense and are presumably no longer a danger to society, so there is no reason for DHS to thereafter imprison them until they get proper documents to deport them. The DHS must do their duty of deportation timely, or they must release the foreign national, according to the Supreme Court.

By telling only half the story, the DHS tries to frighten the American public into thinking that foreign nationals with a deportation order are all hardened criminals that have not been rehabilitated in our prisons. The truth, however, is that a majority are not hardened criminals, rather, they have such offenses as DUI, marijuana possession, traffic offenses, tax offenses and other minor crimes. In the latest press release, the government does not state  what percentage are violent offenders versus non-violent offenders, or, felonies versus misdemeanors. If they would release such statistics, they would not be able to scare the public into believing that only violent criminals are being deported.

In one case, they say that of the 1900+ Cambodians who have deportation orders, 1,412 have criminal convictions. if I had to guess, knowing the Cambodian community based on having many clients from Cambodia, I would estimate that 95% of those convictions are non-violent offenses, and that 99% of them have already served their time and been released by the state jail or prison authorities. To me, the DHS clearly wants to scare the public, and to create an anti-immigrant sentiment. Rather than misleading the public into believing these individuals are violent offenders who never went to jail, the government should provide the full story and the truth, that is, that 99% have fully served their time, and the vast majority have misdemeanors or other non-violent crimes.

For further information, this Houston immigration lawyer and Miami immigration lawyer may be reached at bruce.coane@gmail.com or at 713.850.0066 or 305.538.6800.