WASHINGTON – After refusing an invitation to testify before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, Chairman Chuck Grassley and subcommittee Chairman Jeff Sessions are pressing Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to agree to testify before the full committee in the upcoming weeks about the collapse of removals of criminal immigrants from the United States.
Agency officials made incredulous statements that personnel couldn’t be present before the committee because a hearing isn’t in response to a particular crisis. In a letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah Saldaña, Grassley and Sessions reminded her that Congress’ oversight role is not contingent on a crisis, and that she made a commitment to the committee to comply with testimony and oversight requests.
Grassley and Sessions reiterated their request to have agency officials testify before the Judiciary Committee on any of three separate dates in November.
A copy of the text of the letter is below. The letter can also be found here.
November 4, 2015
The Honorable Sarah Saldaña
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
500 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20536
Dear Director Saldaña,
On October 28, 2015, the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest invited you and two other top officials at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to testify about criminal alien removals at a hearing on November 10. This invitation followed months of requests for information from Judiciary Committee members regarding countless examples of crimes committed by aliens across this country, and a total collapse in removals of criminal aliens.
We were advised that ICE was unable to produce any senior officials to testify on November 10. Accordingly, per the agency's request, we offered two additional dates to accommodate your schedules: November 18 and 19. After extending this courtesy, we were advised that each of these individuals, again, had purported scheduling conflicts. Moreover, we were informed that ICE could not be present because "the hearing isn't in response to a particular crisis." We disagree, and as importantly, the performance of Congress' oversight role is not contingent on a crisis.
Your agency recently informed us that it has no idea how many convicted criminal aliens are present in the United States. But we do know that there are currently at least 179,027 criminal aliens who have been ordered removed from the United States, and who are still here; at least 179,018 in active removal proceedings; ICE released 66,565 criminal aliens from its custody between FY 2013-2014; and, between FY 2010 and FY 2014, 121 criminal aliens released by ICE went on to kill. And earlier this year, we heard testimony from family members of victims of crimes committed by criminal aliens. They also believe this issue is a crisis.
When you were nominated to lead this agency, you committed to comply with testimony and oversight requests. Therefore, we expect representatives from your agency to provide testimony and answer questions asked by members of the Committee.
Accordingly, we request the invited individuals to testify before the full Senate Judiciary Committee on one of the dates that have been offered.
Charles E. Grassley
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary
Chairman, Subcommittee on
Immigration and the National Interest