Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on Tuesday that it released 250 immigrants with criminal histories back into communities in response to a coronavirus-related order issued by the Central District of California, Fox News reports.
The news came a week after U.S. Judge Terry Hatter ordered the agency either release or deport detainees at the Adelanto ICE processing center in Southern California in order to halt the spread of coronavirus infections. According to the order, starting from October 19 they must reduce the population at the facility by at least 50 detainees a day, until the population is at or below 475 detainees. At the time of the order, about 750 people were detained there.
ICE claims that “despite requests to transfer detainees to alternative locations,” it ended up releasing 250 from the facility, which is run by a federal contractor. The criminal histories of those released included, but was not limited to: assault with a deadly weapon, battery, child cruelty, contempt/violating a protected order, domestic violence, disorderly conduct, driving without a license, driving under the influence (DUI), false imprisonment, fraud, hit and run, grand theft, obstructing a police officer, possession of a controlled substance, prostitution, sexual offenses (including lewd/lascivious acts with a child), weapons violations, and the federal offense of illegal reentry after removal.
ICE’s Senior Official Performing the Duties of the Director Tony H. Pham slammed the order as a danger to public safety and accused the court of overstepping its authority.
“While opponents who continuously seek to discredit the agency might otherwise mislead the public to believe that those in detention pose no risk to public safety, nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “ICE has complied with this overreaching court order; however, the public should know that the ruling undoubtedly places them at greater risk.”
The coronavirus-related order follows similar actions across the U.S in which prisons released inmates, according to the Los Angeles Times, the state has already expedited the release of thousands of prisoners, including a woman convicted of murder. And in New York City, at least dozens of released criminals went on to commit new crimes, with at least 50 landing themselves back in jail, according to the New York Post.
The recent release left the processing center with a population of 465, slightly below the 475 previously requested by Hatter. At least 162 had tested positive for the virus, according to Business Insider.
ICE maintains that it follows “an aggressive inspections program for its detention centers” and followed Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines for containing the virus.
“As an added precautionary measure for communities,” ICE’s press release read, “no detainee was released until officials established a high degree of certainty that they did not pose a COVID-19 public health risk.”
The Trump administration sued the entire state in 2018 over its sanctuary law. In February, ICE reported that 411 inmates that were previously released had been rearrested and booked into Orange County Jail on additional charges, which included domestic violence, identity theft, and driving under the influence, according to Fox News.