One million people facing immigration proceedings have been released into the general population, the government’s chief of detention and removal told the Senate yesterday , prompting some Republicans to say the Bush administration is “not serious” about the problem.
“We have a million individuals who are in some phase of immigration proceedings released,” said Victor X. Cerda, the acting director of detention and removal operations for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
He said of those people, 465,000 are fugitive aliens who have been ordered deported. About 80,000 of those are criminal aliens who have committed an offense in addition to immigration violations, but he couldn’t provide an exact number.
Yesterday’s hearing, before two subcommittees of the Judiciary Committee, is supposed to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive immigration bill, said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican and chairman of the immigration subcommittee, which held the hearing along with Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, chairman of the terrorism subcommittee.
“No serious discussion of comprehensive immigration reform is possible without a review of our nation’s ability to effectively secure its borders and enforce its immigration laws,” Mr. Cornyn said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican, and Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, demanded to know why Mr. Cerda was not doing more to have illegal aliens removed.