SCOTUS in the Blame for the Death of Kate Steinle

The Supreme Court in July of 2001 rendered a decision that is a ghost haunting the halls of the Department of Justice today when it comes to immigration. When it comes to words, they matter and ‘may’ versus ‘shall’ has been exploited by the Obama administration.

God rest the souls of all those with Kate Steinle

There was a case titled Zadvydas v. Davis where the court ruled that forced the release of criminal aliens after 90 days under the guise of ‘indefinite detention’.

The Supreme Court did not agree with the government’s interpretation of the statute and felt that, as applied, the statute violated aliens’ constitutional rights to due process. The Court took issue with what it believed to be the “indefinite detention” of Zadvydas and Ma (despite the fact that the government continued to search for a place to deport the aliens during the post-90-day period). In a close 5-4 decision, the Court held that it could not find “any clear indication of congressional intent to grant the Attorney General the power to hold indefinitely in confinement an alien ordered removed.”8 The Court then decided to “construe the statute to contain an implicit ‘reasonable time’ limitation.”9 Clearly, on its face, the statute requires no such limitations. The Court explained their construction:

“The government points to the statute’s word, ‘may.’ But while ‘may’ suggests discretion, it does not necessarily suggest unlimited discretion. In that respect the word ‘may’ is ambiguous. Indeed, if Congress had meant to authorize long-term detention of unremovable aliens, it certainly could have spoken in clearer terms.”

How Zadvydas Puts Foreign Powers in Control of U.S. Immigration Policy. One of the arguments for the political branches’ plenary power over immigration involves a focus on foreign affairs. That issue was a factor in the Zadvydas decision. Under the Constitution, it is the executive and legislative branches that direct foreign policy matters. This ensures that the U.S. relations with other countries are consistent and reliable. As explained by the dissenting justices in Zadvydas: “judicial orders requiring release of removable aliens, even on a temporary basis, have the potential to undermine the obvious necessity that the Nation speak with one voice on immigration and foreign affairs matters.”23 The problem is that the majority effectively empowered foreign governments to control U.S. immigration policy. The dissenting justices in Zadvydas explained:

“The result of the Court’s rule is that, by refusing to accept repatriation of their own nationals, other countries can effect the release of these individuals back into the American community. If their own nationals are now at large in the United States, the nation of origin may ignore or disclaim responsibility to accept their return. The interference with sensitive foreign relations becomes even more acute where hostility or tension characterizes the relationship, for other countries can use the fact of judicially mandated release to their strategic advantage, refusing the return of their nationals to force dangerous aliens upon us.”

The Congress responded to the decision immediately after the attacks of 9/11 with 3 laws: The USA Patriot Act, The Real ID Act and Keep Our Communities Safe Act.

Released July 8, 2015 by the Senate Judiciary

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, was joined by Republican colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee in sending a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson regarding the dangerous new “Priority Enforcement Program,” which goes even further than the administrative amnesty memos in defining categories of illegal aliens that are immune from immigration enforcement. Upon releasing the letter, Sessions issued the following statement:

“Rather than working with state and local law enforcement to identify, detain, and deport dangerous criminal aliens, DHS officials have enabled ‘sanctuary cities’; dismantled effective cooperative-enforcement programs like 287g, Secure Communities, and Operation Streamline; and allowed repeat criminal offenders to be released onto American streets by the tens of thousands. Right now, there are nearly 170,000 convicted criminal aliens who have been ordered deported, but who remain at large in our country. This is a direct result of non-enforcement policies.

Now, the Administration has proposed a new ‘Priority Enforcement Program’ that actually directs officers not to enforce federal law. By defining its ‘priorities’ to exclude large categories of illegal immigrants, including those who have already been ordered deported or those who illegally reenter after having been deported, PEP ensures that countless more dangerous aliens will be released into U.S. communities—allowing otherwise entirely preventable crimes, including some of the most violent and egregious, to occur.  Immigration enforcement is not supposed to be a game of Russian roulette where we release habitual immigration violators into U.S. communities and hope and pray they don’t go on to commit additional criminal offenses.”

The letter to DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson:

“Dear Secretary Johnson:

We write regarding the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP), which requires immigration law officers and agents to ignore plain law and public safety, solely to the benefit of criminal aliens in the United States. This program, along with the so-called “enforcement priorities” outlined in your November 20, 2014, memorandum titled “Priorities for the Apprehension, Detention, and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants,” are contrary to law and pose direct threats to public safety.

Your Department has refused to confront so-called “sanctuary” jurisdictions, endangering the public safety and leading to tragedies such as the recent killings of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco, California, and Angelica Martinez in Laredo, Texas. These deaths are the result of such sanctuary jurisdictions’ dangerous policies, and this Administration’s refusal to do anything to stop them. Yet, rather than enhance the successful Secure Communities program, confront sanctuary jurisdictions, defend federal law enforcement’s legitimate use of detainers, request additional resources, or ask Congress for a legislative solution, your Department has unilaterally designed a program that will endanger the American people.

As a preliminary matter, the “enforcement priorities” established in the aforementioned memorandum fail to include significant categories of criminal aliens defined by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), including, but not limited to:

  • Aliens convicted of nearly all offenses that constitute crimes involving moral turpitude,[1] which includes not only crimes such as theft, but all offenses that are “inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or society in general”[2] ;and,
  • Aliens convicted of drug possession offenses,[3] including those who were initially charged with trafficking offenses but who were permitted to plead down to simple possession.

Your enforcement priorities also fail to include other criminal aliens, such as those who have been convicted of two or more misdemeanors that you deem not to be “significant.” They similarly fail to include aliens convicted of any misdemeanor offense who do not serve 90 days or more in prison—regardless of whether they received a suspended sentence that exceeded 90 days. Rather than take the common sense approach of defining as “enforcement priorities” all classes of criminal and dangerous aliens as defined by Congress in the INA, and adding others as a matter of policy, your Department has elected to acquiesce willfully to the presence of criminal aliens in the United States and ordered law enforcement officers and agents to look the other way except in extremely limited circumstances.

As though the disparity between these “enforcement priorities” and existing law were not bad enough, your Department has designed PEP in a manner that creates disparities between PEP and the “enforcement priorities” listed in your November 20, 2014, memo. Significantly, this includes priorities 1(b) (recent border crossers); 2(c) (aliens who enter the United States unlawfully or reenter after a previous removal or return); 2(d) (aliens who significantly abuse the terms of their visas); and 3 (aliens who have a final order of removal on or after January 1, 2014). 

It is also our understanding that, under PEP, your Department will only seek the transfer of an alien in the custody of state or local law enforcement if the criminal alien has a conviction for a limited number of criminal offenses, engaged intentionally in organized gang activities, or poses a danger to national security. However, even in many of these cases, DHS will simply request “notification” of the release date from state and local law enforcement, rather than issue a detainer. Additionally, the mere fact that an alien has been charged with or arrested for an offense is no longer acceptable, as your Department will only seek to assume custody of any criminal alien once that alien has an actual conviction.

In recent briefings to congressional staff, your Department has described PEP as though it is somehow necessary to reengage with sanctuary jurisdictions that failed to work with DHS under the Secure Communities program. At the same time, however, DHS representatives have confirmed at these briefings that PEP does not guarantee the cooperation of any sanctuary jurisdictions, and that such jurisdictions will have the ability to determine which parts of PEP they will comply with, if any. Thus, even here, the Administration has once again acquiesced to sanctuary jurisdictions.

Under PEP, countless criminal aliens who have managed to evade conviction will be released, endangering our communities. More crimes will be committed, and precious resources will be spent to re-apprehend these individuals, a process that significantly endangers the safety of your officers and agents. It would be much more effective and efficient to issue detainers and simply transfer these criminal aliens directly into your Department’s custody. We note that as recently as 2012, then-Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, John Morton, offered to pay localities any additional expenses of holding inmates until they can be picked up,[4] yet your Department has apparently abandoned even this reasonable proposal.

Accordingly, please respond to the following questions by July 21, 2015:

1. How many aliens present in the United States today have ever been arrested for a criminal offense?

2. How many aliens present in the United States today have ever been convicted of a criminal offense?

3. How many aliens with final orders of removal remain in the United States today?

A. Of those, please specify how many have ever been arrested for any criminal offense.
B. Of those, please specify how many have ever been convicted of any criminal offense.

4. From fiscal year 2009 through the present, how many detainers has your Department issued? Of those, how many were honored?

5. Does DHS have any projections as to how PEP will affect the number of detainers it issues each year? If so, please provide them.

6. Does DHS have any projections as to how the new enforcement priorities will affect the number of removals it can effectuate each year? If so, please provide them.

7. Does DHS have any projections as to how PEP will affect the number of removals it can effectuate each year? If so, please provide them.

8. Does DHS have any projections as to how many criminal aliens with any record of a criminal arrest or conviction will be permitted to stay in the United States after full implementation of PEP? If so, please provide them.

9. Does DHS have any projections as to how many sanctuary jurisdictions will comply with PEP? If so, please provide them.

10. DHS has publicly touted its engagement with Los Angeles County regarding PEP.[5] However, DHS has not actually secured any commitments from Los Angeles County as to how it will cooperate with PEP. Do you have any guarantees that Los Angeles County, or any other sanctuary jurisdiction, will fully comply with PEP?

11. How many jurisdictions that had previously refused to honor detainers or otherwise cooperate with federal immigration law enforcement have committed to comply with PEP in its entirety?

12. Under PEP, will DHS issue a request for a notification of release or a detainer for all aliens who are subject to mandatory custody under section 236(c) of the INA? If not, please explain why not.

13. In light of the tragic murders of Kathryn Steinle and Angelica Martinez last week, is it still the Administration’s position that federal immigration detainers should not be mandatory?

­­Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Jeff Sessions, Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest

David Vitter, Deputy Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest

Chuck Grassley, U.S. Senator

David Perdue, U.S. Senator

John Cornyn, U.S. Senator

Mike Lee, U.S. Senator

Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator

Thom Tillis, U.S. Senator

Orrin Hatch, U.S. Senator”



Posted in Citizens Duty, DOJ, DC and inside the Beltway, Failed foreign policy, Gangs and Crimes, government fraud spending collusion, Insurgency, Terror, U.S. Constitution, Whistleblower.

Denise Simon