Immigration Officials Release 36,000 Criminal Immigrants into U.S.

Lynchburg, VA - Immigration officials are under fire for releasing tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants with criminal records back into the U.S.The Center for Immigration Studies reports among the 36-thousand released in 2013. Dozens were convicted murderers and thousands had drunk driving and dangerous drug convictions.All of the 36 thousand undocumented immigrants that were released were awaiting deportation.According to documents, one of the largest percentage of criminal immigrants to be released happened right here in Virginia.In a statement to ABC 13 News, U-S Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said that, "Many of the individuals released were under restrictions such as GPS monitoring, telephone monitoring, supervision, or surety bond."ICE says they were required to release most of the criminal immigrants by law. In a 2001 decision, the Supreme Court ruled the government must release immigrants awaiting deportation if the U.S. can't find a country that will accept them. That includes even those with a criminal record.ICE says mandatory releases account for 72% of the convicted murderers released."We give foreign aid and help to other countries and then those countries turn around and refuse to take their own citizens back when they are being deported from the United States. So our government needs to take a much more aggressive stance about this" said Congressman Bob Goodlatte.Local immigration advocacy group Dream Team District 6 agrees with Goodlatte that the current system needs to be reformed.However, they say the 36,000 only amounts to less than 12 percent of immigrants detained, and the majority of them are only guilty of minor traffic offenses. They say the statistics are misleading and do not represent the millions of undocumented immigrants with clean records."It's a very important issue that hits families and destroys families. So when we release data like this we need to make sure it being released in a truthful manner" said immigration advocate Eddie Seay.Goodlatte says the House Judiciary Committee plans to hold an oversight hearing on the Department of Homeland Security in the coming weeks.