Many immigrants released, then re-arrested in US

LOS ANGELES: More than 1,800 immigrants that the federal government wanted to deport from the United States were nevertheless released from local jails and later re-arrested for various crimes, according to a government report released Monday.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement report — obtained by an organization that actively opposes illegal immigration — said the re-arrested immigrants were among 8,145 people who were freed between January and August 2014, despite requests from federal agents that they be held for deportation.

The report provided by the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies says about 23 percent were eventually taken into custody again on a variety of charges.

Many jurisdictions have stopped honoring so-called immigration detainers, requests to keep the immigrants in custody, saying they can't hold arrestees without probable cause.

In a case drawing national attention to the issue, authorities say a woman was shot to death in San Francisco earlier this month by a suspect who was released from jail despite an immigration detainer.

In the report, the top crimes for which immigrants were re-arrested were drug violations and drunken driving. The report also cited six examples involving more serious offenses, including one where an individual was arrested for investigation of five felony sex crimes involving a child under 14 after a detainer had been declined.

"This is a genuine safety problem, and also a crisis for immigration enforcement," said Jessica Vaughan, the center's director of policy studies.

In the last two weeks, a number of politicians and lawmakers have questioned the limits on the use of detainers. San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi has argued he was upholding local law and that detainers are not a legal way to keep someone in custody and have been proven to erode police relations with immigrant communities.

Immigrant advocates said federal immigration agents already have information about who is in local jails, and they can make the arrests on their own.