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Diane Dimond: Failure to Act on Immigration Reform Puts Americans in Danger

Decisions always have a consequence. That’s what I told my daughter as she was growing up: make a decision to do something but, realize, you must then live with the consequences.

I’m left wondering if Washington politicians had mothers who taught them the same lesson.

The consequence of Washington’s long-term failure to fix our fractured immigration policy just keeps getting more dangerous. The upshot for the rest of us? Ticking human time bombs walking among us.

For more than three years the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Homeland Security Department has been forced to release thousands of deportation-ready criminal immigrants onto American streets.

More than 86,000 of them are, presumably, still out there.

Why? Because after they served their time in U.S. prisons, their home countries refused to take them back. Simple as that.

Either no one in the Obama administration noticed or they did not care that the only alternative left was to allow these convicts, who had long ago entered our country illegally, to stay here.

No one in Washington forced the issue and demanded that their home countries take them back. It was like a big collective shoulder shrug within our three branches of government.

We’re not talking about people who were caught jaywalking here. In fiscal year 2015, for example, ICE let loose on the American public 19,723 of these foreign-born criminals.

Together they accounted for more than 64,000 crimes, crimes that very likely would not have happened on U.S. soil had our elected officials bothered to do something about our long-standing immigration mess.

What did these criminals here illegally do? More than 800 of them committed robberies, 614 perpetrated sex offenses, 216 were found guilty of kidnapping and 196 murdered people.

One of those released in early 2015 was Jean Jacques of Haiti. He was convicted of attempted murder and several parole violations and served 17 years in the U.S. prison system.

The Haitian government refused three requests to take him back, and Jacques was ultimately let loose in his adopted home state of Connecticut.

Six months later, he was back in court charged with murdering a 25-year-old woman named Casey Chadwick of Norwich, Conn. Jacques was found guilty last month.

How many more of these criminals have anonymously blended into a community and committed other violent crimes is anyone’s guess.

The situation raises enormously important questions. Where are the more than 86,000 convicts now? Has anyone at ICE been keeping track of them? What kind of diplomacy is underway to force countries to take back their criminal element?

Congress continues to have sporadic hearings about this issue, and a few lawmakers deliver stern-sounding admonitions, but no immigration overhaul is in the works.

ICE director Sarah Saldana told a house committee recently that because of a complex set of immigration laws and regulations, her agents have little choice but to release these convicted immigrants while they wait for the rulings of immigration judges.

With a backlog of almost a half-million cases currently pending in immigration courts, many (if not most) of these criminal immigrants could be free to roam our country for years before being ordered out.

And then if their home country continues to deny them entry what will be this nation’s response? Another shoulder shrug?

It is way past time for immigration reform. The status quo is destroying this country. Here are some suggestions should anyone in Washington with gumption decide to do something about this mess:

» Identify these wrongly released people and ascertain their whereabouts immediately.

» Inform their home countries that their convicted citizens are returning. No ifs, ands or buts.

» For those countries that refuse delivery, all U.S. financial aid is immediately halted.

» For those countries that refuse to cooperate with legal immigration, personal and business travel and all commerce with the United States halts immediately.

» Regular business with offending countries does not return to normal for at least two years after they accept the last criminal previously denied entry.

» Obtain a written agreement with said country that they will never again refuse to accept the return of one of their citizens.

Diane Dimond is the author of Be Careful Who You Love: Inside the Michael Jackson Case. Contact her at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @DiDimond, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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