Posted on April 15, 2024

Mayorkas Says Freeing Laken Riley’s Accused Killer into U.S. Was Warranted

John Binder, Breitbart, April 13, 2024

When Jose Antonio Ibarra of Venezuela first crossed the United States-Mexico border in September 2022 near El Paso, Texas, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had about 8,100 detention beds available. Instead of holding Ibarra in its available detention space, ICE released him into the U.S. interior.

A year and a half later, Ibarra was arrested and charged with 22-year-old Laken Riley‘s murder in Athens, Georgia.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, during a Senate hearing on Thursday, suggested that Ibarra’s release into the U.S. interior was justified because the agency had no reason to detain him — even as thousands of ICE detention beds were available at the time of his release.

“There was no derogatory information of which we were aware in our holdings to compel the detention of this individual,” Mayorkas told Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL), a ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Homeland Security Subcommittee.


Experts told Breitbart News that the Biden administration has continuously sought to gut ICE detention in favor of a mass release policy at the border that even cuts out monitoring of migrants post-release.

For instance, in Biden’s latest Fiscal Year 2025 budget request, Mayorkas asks for just 34,000 ICE detention beds — a decrease from the 41,500 detention beds funded by Congress in spending packages approved last month and far below the 50,000 detention beds that the administration agreed to accept in legislation proposed by Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) and Democrats.


The House Homeland Security Committee issued a report late last year that chronicled the Biden administration’s reduction of detention beds:

In fact, ICE is not using many detention facilities to their full capacity, despite the record number of illegal aliens crossing each month. For example, by December 2023, the Adelanto ICE facility in Southern California, with a detention capacity of nearly 2,000 illegal aliens, is currently holding just six, because the Biden administration refuses to actively fight a court order that prohibited new intake to the facility in 2020 due to COVID-19 spacing and distance requirements. [Emphasis added]

All told, 25,000 ICE beds at the ceiling of $142.44 per day, for 365 days a year, totals around $1.3 billion, and $1.43 billion at $157.20 per day. Regardless of whether those beds are used to full capacity, they are still paid for by the American taxpayer. However, instead of using that detention capacity to hold and deport illegal aliens, Mayorkas has stifled interior enforcement and implemented his policy of “catch and release,” whereby hundreds of thousands of illegal aliens are being released into the interior. This mass wave off illegal aliens subsequently making its way throughout the country, but especially major cities, who are then forced to pay to house them. This leads to outcomes in which state and local governments are forced to unnecessarily shoulder new costs to house illegal aliens, often asking the federal government to reimburse them for those costs—on top of the expenditures DHS has already made for thousands of ICE beds. [Emphasis added]

Like ICE detention beds, the number of migrants enrolled in ICE’s Alternatives to Detention (ATD) program has also failed to grow alongside a record number of border crossings and mass releases under Biden.


In her testimony, Britt noted a widespread number of criminal migrants continuously being released from ICE custody rather than remaining detained.

“There have been 4,700 with convictions for assault, 450 of whom have been released,” Britt detailed to Mayorkas:

There have been 5,200 with convictions for drug crimes, 261 of which have been released. There have been 1,100 with convictions for weapons crimes, 92 of which have been released. There have been 1,200 with convictions for sexual assault, 46 of whom have been released. And there have been 490 with convictions for homicide, 50 of whom have been released.
[Emphasis added]