PHOENIX, AZ (February 27, 2013) – Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery released the following statement on the decision by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to release several hundred immigrant detainees from deportation centers in Arizona:
The recent decision by the Obama Administration to release ICE detainees into local communities with no formal notification to law enforcement, regardless of the reasons for the decision, is in callous disregard for public safety. We do not know the criteria for determining release nor the actual offenses committed by detainees or the basis for detention in the first place. Unfortunately, it is just the latest example of acting without thinking or caring when it comes to addressing issues surrounding immigration on the whole and illegal immigration in particular. For us in Arizona, we’ve seen this kind of conduct before. In December of 2011, ICE summarily ceased cooperation with the Maricopa County Jail’s 287(g) and Secured Communities Programs, ignorant of the effect on our responsibilities per the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of 1963 and the need to provide information to local courts as required per the Arizona Constitution for release determinations. With respect to Consular obligations, Article 36 of the treaty provides that foreign nationals in custody must be given notice “without delay” of their right to have their embassy or consulate notified and, if requested, law enforcement must provide to the embassy or consulate, giving the person's name, the place of arrest, and, if possible, information about the offense.
It was only after an intense round of notifications and making Administration officials aware of their blunder that resources were promised to ensure a continued flow of required information on all persons booked into the jail. While local ICE officials have been cooperative and we have been able to meet the obligations regarding consular notifications and release determinations, the promise to provide 50 more ICE agents to assist with this effort never materialized.
As for the recent statement by the Secretary of Homeland Security of impending sequestration cutbacks to Customs and Border Protection resources, reported to include a reduction of up to 25% in deployed agent time equivalent to 5,000 agents with less security between ports of entry, this response is unconscionable given the national security and criminal threats faced every day along the southwest border and the Tucson sector. Should these reductions occur, it will be accurate to report that this Administration has deliberately and consciously rendered the southwest border less secure than any other administration in recent memory.
The Administration’s willingness to endanger public safety and jeopardize national security is in direct violation of the President’s charge under Art. II, Sec. 3., that “…he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed…” If he chose to do so, he could use his executive authority to require administrative agencies of the executive branch to prioritize spending to ensure that necessary functions are not impaired. The willingness to play chicken with the security of Americans is contemptible.