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Republicans, Obama Immigration Chief Clash Over Criminal Immigrants | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses a news conference regarding issues on undocumented immigrants in Beverly Hills, California

WASHINGTON – During a congressional hearing on the crimes that are recorded to be committed by illegal immigrants, a fiery exchange took place, where Republicans grilled top Obama administration immigration official Sarah Saldana. The main problem is that Republicans are calling for more control of U.S. borders.

However Saldana shielded her record and appealed for comprehensive immigration reform where she stated that she cannot express how disheartening it is to sit where she is and hear a very important issue related to the topic of immigration reform be “bandied about as a political football”.

Noting that Republicans on a House oversight committee blamed ICE for releasing undocumented immigrants from jail whom they said went on to commit homicides, sexual assaults and drunk driving offenses.

Further, the release of the illegal immigrants who commit later crimes gained attention on the campaign trail last year after Kathryn Steinle, 32, was shot and killed in San Francisco by Juan Lopez-Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant and convicted felon who had previously been deported to Mexico five times.
And on the incident Trump said in July that Steinle’s death showed the need for tighter control of the U.S.-Mexico border.

Saldana explained that the Obama administration has a policy of deporting immigrants who pose a violent threat, but it releases some who have served prison sentences for their crimes and are deemed not dangerous.

When undocumented immigrants have served their jail time but cannot be repatriated, immigration authorities have no choice but to release them, she said. Only specific crimes require mandatory jailing of immigrants, Saldana said, adding that Congress should consider changing that policy.

Countries such as Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti and Guinea have refused to take back some of their citizens after they have been ordered deported from the United States, Saldana said. Saldana said she is meeting with the State Department to persuade them to enforce visa restrictions on countries who do not take back their citizens.