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Blumenthal Secures Commitment from DHS Secretary to Review and Reform Policies and Procedures for Deporting Dangerous Criminals

Senator pressed Secretary Johnson on deportation policies following the release of a DHS IG inquiry into ICE’s failure to deport Jean Jacques

[WASHINGTON, DC] – At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) secured Secretary of Homeland Security John Jeh’s commitment to pursue specific actions to ensure that dangerous criminals – like Jean Jacques, a Haitian national currently in prison for the alleged murder of 25-year-old Norwich woman Casey Chadwick – are deported.

“I would like to ask your commitment that you will join us in seeking specific changes in State Department policy that will sanction those countries that refuse or resist taking back their nationals who are here illegally after they commit crimes and continue to pose a danger to our nation,” Blumenthal asked.

“Yes, you have that commitment,” Johnson responded.

After Blumenthal pressed Johnson on specific actions the Department could and should take to ensure that countries cannot simply refuse to accept the return of their nationals, Johnson said: “Very clearly, this is a work in progress and at some point I’m going to advocate that we use the ultimate sanction that we have available to us, which is to deny visas to these countries if we don’t see more progress.”

Video of Blumenthal speaking with Johnson at today’s hearing is available here.

Blumenthal pursued this line of questioning with the Secretary just one week after the Office of the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS IG) issued report on the agency’s inquiry into Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) failure to deport Jacques. The inquiry was launched following a request by Blumenthal, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT), and U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (D-CT). Today, Johnson confirmed that he had read the report.

According to the report released by the DHS IG last week:

  • ICE lacked sufficient framework to secure key identity documents to provide Jacques’ nationality, a central part of Haiti’s repeated refusal to accept Jacques.
  • ICE did not formally escalate this case to the State Department after Haiti’s repeated rejection of Jacques, which the IG report notes is “a course of action that is provided for in ERO’s removal guidelines.”
  • ICE officials did not take key steps that could have strengthened the case for removal, such as interviewing family members to secure additional verification or requiring Jacques to personally secure such documents himself a condition of his release.
  • ICE did not properly supervise Jacques after his release, raising significant concern about a lack of risk-based supervision of those with criminal backgrounds, inconsistent training and guidance for officers, and massive caseloads that prevent more effective monitoring of those released from ICE custody.

The report released by the DHS IG reviewed the facts of the case and examined the extent to which ICE adhered to its policies in the release and supervision of Jacques. A second report, which will provide a broader systemic analysis of ICE enforcement and removal policies raised by this case, will be completed at a later date.