- - Monday, March 23, 2015

Statistics can be a cure for insomnia, but sometimes they can deliver the jolt of a thunderclap. Here’s a thunderclap with a number on it: 165,527. That’s the number of illegals in the United States who have been convicted of a crime and were turned loose by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security.

The term “Homeland Security” becomes a misnomer when the government frees criminals — particularly those who shouldn’t be in the U.S. in the first place — to kill, rob, rape, maim and kidnap again.

The astonishing number of released convicts among us emerged from testimony of ICE Director Sarah Saldana before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, the chairman, pressed Ms. Saldana to explain why her agents released prisoners who included convicted murderers, sex criminals (recruits, perhaps, in “the war on women”), robbers, kidnappers and drunk drivers. “These are people that are here illegally, get caught, convicted, and you release them into the public,” Mr. Chaffetz said.

Ms. Saldana blamed it on overcrowding of ICE detention facilities and the aliens’ home countries, who are glad to be rid of them and won’t take them back. She told the committee that she’s sorry about it and all, but defended it as falling within the agency’s “discretionary control.” That’s lawyer talk for camouflaging the facts, like describing the government’s taking control of the Internet as “net neutrality.” When “discretionary control” describes the freeing of killers, robbers and kidnappers willing and eager to do the crime with no fear of “doing the time,” it’s time to find someone willing to lock the doors.

Stephen Dinan of The Washington Times reported last week that ICE released 30,558 criminal illegals in 2014 alone, down slightly from 36,007 who were released in 2013. Among those let out that year were 193 convicted of murder, 426 of rape and other sexual crimes, 303 of kidnapping and 16,070 of driving drunk. A thousand of them committed new crimes after getting out of jail. Homegrown American criminals would kill, so to speak, to get the leniency reserved for foreigners. If all the 165,527 freed illegal convicts from across the country were gathered in one place, they would comprise a city the size of Springfield, Missouri; Sioux Falls, South Dakota or Ontario, California. They might be called America’s own “foreign legion.”

Rather than release them, deportation would be the logical end for the sneakers and criminals, but Ms. Saldana explains that it can take months and “even years to deport folks” because of the requirements of “due process.” This enabled Apolinar Altamirano, an illegal Mexican immigrant, for one example of what can happen, to shoot Grant Ronnebeck, 21, an Arizona store clerk, in an argument over a pack of cigarettes. Altamirano was out of jail on bond after an earlier burglary.

Feeling not an urge to do the right thing, but congressional heat, ICE announced last week that it would stiffen its “discretionary control” over illegals who are deemed a public safety threat. The agency promised to require “enhanced supervisory approval” of certain categories of those who have committed felonies and to avoid releases due to overcrowding of facilities.

President Obama’s amnesty for such illegals has been temporarily suspended by the courts, but he has made the homeland insecure because he won’t secure the border, and sends the message to the masses south of the border that if they come illegally they won’t be deported.

Americans are sympathetic to the tired, the poor and those yearning to breathe free of political and religious persecution. We’re a nation of immigrants, after all. But Americans are rightly intolerant of those who break the rules, steal across the border and spread their evil spoor on American soil. It’s a crime, and must be treated as such.

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