SOURCE: Judicial Watch

Judicial Watch

March 09, 2015 16:36 ET

Judicial Watch Sues DHS on Behalf of Arizona Concerned Citizen for Records on Mass Release of Criminal Illegal Aliens

Over 600 Known Illegal Alien Detainees With Criminal Records Part of the Release That Obama Appointees Blamed on "Sequestration" Budget Cuts

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - March 09, 2015) - Judicial Watch announced today that on January 15, 2015, it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on behalf of Edward "Bud" Tuffly II, a concerned citizen and former Border Patrol agent, against the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to obtain records regarding the release of thousands of illegal aliens allegedly in anticipation of "sequestration" budget cuts. Over 2,000 immigrants were released nationwide in February 2013, prior to any of the budget cuts going into effect. Over 600 of these detainees were known criminals prior to their release.

The FOIA lawsuit was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona, and seeks information regarding criminal aliens released from facilities in Pinal County, AZ (Edward "Bud" Tuffly v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No.2:15-cv-00067)).

Judicial Watch and Tuffly filed the suit after DHS failed to respond to a November 10, 2014, FOIA request made by Tuffly with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seeking the following information:

  • Records sufficient to identify all ICE detainees released in late February or early March 2013 from the following detention facilities due to alleged fiscal or budget uncertainty: (a) Central Arizona Correctional Center in Florence, Arizona: (b) Eloy Detention Center in Eloy, Arizona; (c) Florence Correctional Center in Florence, Arizona; (d) Florence SPC in Florence, Arizona; and (e) Pinal County Adult Detention Center in Florence, Arizona.
  • For each detainee identified in response to Request No.1, the I-213 form(s) documenting the detainee's arrest.
  • For each detainee identified in response to Request No.1, records sufficient to identify: (a) the date the detainee was released; (b) the facility from which the detainee was released; (c) the detainee's criminal history or criminal charges at the time of release; (d) methods of supervision to which the detainee was subjected; and (e) whether the detainee appeared for subsequent removal or other proceedings and/or was removed from the United States.

ICE officials said they were aware at the time of the mass release that many of the illegals they freed were convicted criminals, but insisted that all of the 600-plus criminals were guilty of petty offenses. However, records obtained by USA Today revealed that some of the criminals released were guilty of more serious offenses including kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and homicide. In response, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said it is "deeply troubling that ICE would knowingly release thousands of undocumented immigrant detainees -- many with prior criminal records -- into our streets, while publicly downplaying the danger they posed."

An August 2014 report by the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that, "between February 9 and March 1, 2013, Enforcement and Removal Operations field offices released some aliens with criminal convictions whose detention was statutorily required."

"The Obama administration's contempt for the immigration laws is putting the public safety in jeopardy, especially in Arizona," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "That we have to sue on behalf an Arizona concerned citizen for basic information about the illegal alien criminals released into the state in which he lives is further proof that the Obama administration has put pro-illegal alien politics above the lives of Americans."

"I am frustrated as a concerned citizen that our government has broken trust with the American people by recklessly releasing criminals onto the streets -- and is now covering up details about the illegal alien jailbreak that could save lives, including those in law enforcement on the border," stated Mr. Tuffly. "I am pleased that Judicial Watch is willing to go to federal court to help me find out more about the criminals that the Obama administration released into my community without any warning."

In July 2014, Judicial Watch filed a separate FOIA lawsuit against DHS to obtain records relating to the total number of illegal aliens and criminals released in 2013 (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security (No. 1:14-cv-01237)). A Center for Immigration Studies report revealed that a total of 36,000 criminal illegal aliens were released by ICE in 2013. According to National Review Online, 1,000 of these illegal aliens "have already been convicted of new crimes." The National Review report also details how another illegal alien released twice by the Obama administration allegedly murdered Grant Ronnenbeck for a pack of cigarettes in Mesa, Arizona.