Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said he’s sending a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to continue the previous administration’s policy that allowed authorities to deport illegal immigrants in custody who had committed crimes.
DeSantis told reporters on April 1 that the Biden administration is removing detainers from illegal immigrants. Detainers are “critical for ICE [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] to be able to identify and ultimately remove criminal aliens who are currently in federal, state or local custody.”
“We’ve already had in Florida a handful of criminal aliens that had finished their sentences and the detainers were removed by the Biden administration,” DeSantis said. “Normally, they would have been transferred to federal custody and removed, and now, the federal government is effectively releasing them into our communities.”
Speaking at the American Police Hall of Fame and Museum backed by a group of sheriffs, DeSantis announced that he is directing the state’s Department of Corrections “to identity all inmates with detainer agreements who ICE is refusing to pick up and develop a process for transferring them to an ICE detention center.”
He also ordered the corrections department to notify the state’s Department of Law Enforcement and local law enforcement “of all instances in which ICE refuses to detain criminal aliens.” He said he wants everything to be documented.
“If ICE is not willing to take custody and remove … and ICE wants them released into our society, then any additional crime that is committed is by definition one that should have been prevented,” DeSantis told reporters.
“It’s a reckless policy … these are convicted felons. If you can’t remove them, then what do you have? Just a complete lawless system? I don’t think any of us want that.”
An immigration policy tracker by the Heritage Foundation has found that Biden has rolled back almost all of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
Under Biden’s immigration agenda, construction on the U.S.–Mexico border wall was shut down and ICE agents are now limited by narrower guidelines. The Department of Homeland Security had suspended deportations of illegal aliens for 100 days with the exception of those who have “either engaged in or are suspected of terrorism or espionage,” although a district judge has indefinitely banned enforcement of the pause in response to a lawsuit from Texas.
“Over the next 30 days, as many as 50 criminal aliens are set to complete their Florida prison terms subject to detainers by immigration and customs enforcement,” DeSantis said. “That number could rise to over 200 felons within six months. The issue is if those detainers continue to be removed—like they are—there’s going to be no basis for the state to hold them at that point.”
“It would effectively be the federal government releasing these convicted criminals back into the society.”
During a question and answer portion of the conference, The Epoch Times asked DeSantis why the detainers were not being honored.
“They’re not honoring the detainers, why would you not do that? … And I think it’s just whatever the previous administration did, they want to do the opposite,” he responded. “I think it is ideological, I don’t think it was well thought out. I think this is way, way overshooting.”
“This has been a problem that is not new,” he added. “I think we had a good handle on it on the first two years I was governor working with the feds but now we are in a different posture. … I think that you need to act appropriately.”
DeSantis also invited two families to speak. The first was Jamiel Shaw Sr. whose son was shot by an illegal immigrant in 2008.
Shaw’s son, also named Jamiel, or “Jas” was shot in Los Angeles by gang member and Mexican national Pedro Espinoza, who had been released from jail a day earlier. Espinoza, a Mexican national, had previously been booked five times as a juvenile but hadn’t been referred to ICE for deportation.
“He was 17 years old, he knew he had a future, and he was trying to secure it,” the father said at the conference.
“It’s very important that you get them out of here the very first time they commit a crime,” he said, referring to illegal immigrants.
The second family that spoke at the conference was Kiyan and Bobby Michael. Their son was killed in a car crash by a twice-deported illegal immigrant.
Jan Jekielek and Charlotte Cuthbertson contributed to this report.