In an interview with anti-immigrant radio host Joyce Kaufmann yesterday, Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas expressed dismay at undocumented immigrants joining the military and cited a disputed study to claim that the Obama administration is “aiding and abetting crimes in America by intentionally releasing illegal aliens back into our communities.”
The interview took place at an annual event hosted by the extreme anti-immigrant Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR).
Smith, apparently citing a flawed study from the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, claimed that the Obama administration “has released tens of thousands of criminal aliens” and is “putting those folks back on the street” to go on and “commit crimes from murder on up and down.” The administration is “absolutely guilty of aiding and abetting crimes in America by intentionally releasing illegal aliens back into our communities,” he insisted.
Barletta also reacted poorly to a congressional proposal to allow DREAMers who enlist in the military to earn a path to citizenship. “Can you imagine illegal immigrants suddenly being eligible to put on a uniform and defend our borders?,” he asked incredulously.
We have a situation where they’re supporting efforts to give amnesty to illegal immigrants who join the military. Can you imagine illegal immigrants suddenly being eligible to put on a uniform and defend our borders?
You know, you have an administration who has released tens of thousands of criminal aliens, illegal aliens either charged with or guilty of crimes. They’re putting those folks back on the street. And we’ve got a list now of tens of thousands of additional crimes these folks have committed. Again, that is totally the responsibility, it’s more than the responsibility of the administration, they’re absolutely guilty of aiding and abetting crimes in America by intentionally releasing illegal aliens back into our communities. And they commit crimes from murder on up and down. And inexcusable, it could have been prevented, this administration has to take responsibility for their actions.
As Benjamin Johnson of the American Immigration Council explains, Smith's claim about the administration putting "tens of thousands of criminal aliens...back on the street" is far from the truth:
The claim in the CIS report that ICE has simply chosen to “release” 68,000 “criminal aliens” through the exercise of “prosecutorial discretion” is inaccurate. Being released by ICE is not the equivalent of being set free. It often means being released with an ankle bracelet or under an order of supervision, or issued a notice to appear in court. Just as importantly, many of the immigrants being released have committed minor, non-violent offenses that do not constitute a threat to public safety. These details were conveniently left out of the CIS analysis.
In fact, research has shown that immigrants commit crimes at a much lower rate than the native-born population.