Homeland Security is leaving thousands of detention beds empty even as it voluntarily releases thousands of murderers, kidnappers and other criminals, the chief of deportations admitted to Congress on Thursday as she faced families of those killed by freed illegal immigrant convicts.
“We strive for perfect, but we are human and we fall short sometimes,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director Sarah R. Saldana told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Ms. Saldana said the agency now has 2,000 beds vacant out of the 34,000 it is supposed to have available on the average day.
Government statistics show that in 2015, ICE averaged 28,168 detainees — meaning some 5,800 beds left unused, even as the agency released dangerous convicts back into the community to await the outcomes of their immigration proceedings.
One of those people released last year was Jean Jacques, a Haitian who served time for attempted murder and whom ICE tried to deport, but whom Haiti refused to take back. ICE released him, and he would go on to stab a young woman, Casey Chadwick, in her Connecticut apartment.
“If ICE and Homeland Security had done their job, Casey would not have died,” her mother, Wendy Hartling, told lawmakers just minutes after Ms. Saldana testified.