Judiciary Chairmen Press for Details on Criminal Immigrant Sweep

WASHINGTON – Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is blaming local “sanctuary” policies for allowing “potentially deportable” individuals with “significant criminal histories” back into communities.  The comment follows ICE’s recent four-day sweep in Southern California that led to the arrest of 244 immigrants with criminal records, many of whom previously entered the country illegally and have been convicted of at least one felony. 

In a letter to Assistant Secretary Sarah Saldaña, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte are raising concerns about avoidable safety risks and taxpayer costs associated with the apprehension of criminals who were already in law enforcement custody, but were released based on a local “sanctuary” policy. These policies, which have been adopted by a number of states and communities, require local law enforcement to ignore federal immigration requests to hold certain criminals or notify the agency before their release.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson recently called sanctuary policies “unacceptable,” stating, “It is counterproductive to public safety to have this level of resistance to working with our immigration enforcement personnel.” Johnson delivered the remarks in San Francisco, where Kate Steinle was murdered on July 1 by a criminal immigrant with multiple felony convictions.  Prior to the murder, the suspect, Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez, was in local police custody, but was released despite a federal detainer request because of a local sanctuary policy.

The lawmakers are seeking details of the four-day manhunt as well as the immigration and criminal backgrounds of the individuals arrested. Full text of the Grassley-Goodlatte letter follows.

October 15, 2015


Sarah Saldaña
Assistant Secretary
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement 
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, D.C. 20536 

Dear Assistant Secretary Saldaña: 

In August, the Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested 244 immigrants with criminal records as part of a four-day sweep across Southern California.   Reportedly, the majority of these individuals entered the country illegally and were subsequently convicted of at least one felony, including violent crimes, weapons, or sex abuse charges.   

Disturbingly, based on statements made by ICE, it appears that these dangerous felons who entered the country illegally were freely roaming our streets due in part to sanctuary city policies at the state and local level.  According to an agency spokesman:   

One of the challenges we’re facing is because of state law and local policies, more individuals who are potentially deportable with significant criminal histories are being released onto the street instead of being turned over to ICE.  

Operations such as the four-day manhunt in question involve costs to the federal taxpayer and inherent safety risks – both of which could be avoided if state and local jurisdictions simply agreed to hold these dangerous criminal aliens until ICE can take them into custody.  

Accordingly, by no later than October 30, 2015, please provide written responses to the following questions: 
1.    How much did it cost to fund this four-day operation? 
2.    How many of the 244 individuals had previously been in ICE custody but released?  For each of these individuals, please explain the reason for the release and provide full criminal and immigration histories. 
3.    How many of the 244 individuals were the subject of ICE’s detainer requests that were ignored by state or local law enforcement agencies?  For each of these individuals, please provide full criminal and immigration histories.  
4.    How many of the 244 individuals were in the country illegally?  

Please number your responses according to their corresponding questions.  If you have any questions, please contact Jay Lim of the Senate Judiciary Committee at (202) 224-5225 or Tracy Short of the House Judiciary Committee at (202) 225-3926.  Thank you for your attention to this important matter.  



Charles E. Grassley                    
Senate Committee on the Judiciary             
Bob Goodlatte
House Committee on the Judiciary 

    The Honorable Patrick Leahy
    Ranking Member
    Senate Committee on the Judiciary 

    The Honorable John Conyers
    Ranking Member
    House Committee on the Judiciary