'Full Measure': No going back

(Sinclair Broadcast Group)

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - This week the Department of Homeland Security announced there's been an unprecedented decline in illegal border crossings during President Donald Trump's first month in office. According to new figures from Customs and Border Protection, illegal traffic as measured by apprehensions and interceptions at the Southern border dropped from more than 31,000 in January to less than 19,000 in February - a 40-percent decline.

In the four months prior to Trump's inauguration the number of illegal immigrants caught crossing from Mexico was up 35 percent over the previous year.

Meantime, border hawks hope to reverse another trend - the refusal by many countries to accept the deportation of their illegal immigrants who have committed serious crimes in the U.S. "Full Measure" recently spoke about that with Rep. Henry Cuellar, a Democrat representing a Texas district where many illegal immigrants cross.

Attkisson: "What is the issue with criminals that we want to deport being taken back by their home nations?"

Cuellar: "There are about 30 countries that have been very difficult to work with that won’t take back their criminals but at the same time we’re issuing business visas or student visas to those countries. So, while we’re giving them the opportunity to come to the United States, they’re refusing, should I say, to take back the criminal aliens that belong to those countries. We found out that there’s a law already that allows us to hold those visas if a country’s not planning to take back their criminals."

Attkisson: "We’re not enforcing that law?"

Cuellar: "We’re not enforcing it which is amazing. So, now my intent is to go back to our Committee on Appropriations and affect their funding until they do that. As you know, it gets a little more complicated because the U.S. Supreme Court has said you can only keep those individuals for a period of time, then you gotta release them and when you release them, that means you’re releasing criminals into our streets because those countries refuse to take back those criminal aliens. That’s wrong. And especially I think it’s even worse that this is already in the books and we’re still issuing business, tourist visas, student visas to countries that refuse to take back their criminal aliens. That’s wrong and we’re hoping to change that."

In 2001, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. cannot indefinitely hold immigrant criminals if their own countries refuse to take them back. Cuban-born Abel Arango had multiple felony convictions in the U.S. for armed robbery, burglary and grand theft. A judge ordered his deportation, but Cuba refused to take him back. He was released in Miami, later arrested for five felony cocaine charges, released again, and in 2008 he gunned down a Ft. Myers, Florida police officer, Andrew Widman.

Attkisson: "What are some of the non-cooperative countries?"

Cuellar: "Vietnam, Cuba, China. There’s a large number of them and we brought this issue back years ago to them 'cause I’ve been working on this issue and they said, well, you know, you gotta understand diplomacy, we don’t wanna upset some of those countries. But my response is, oh, but we can upset our constituents, we can upset our way of life that we have here by allowing those criminals to be released? And basically, their response from the State Department is 'cause you gotta work with the State Department and Homeland. And the State Department - with all due respect - was focused on diplomacy, I understand that. I understand that but I’m also concerned about individuals here who are in their neighborhoods and you can release a criminal because we can’t hold them anymore and that county refuses to take back that criminal alien."

Cuellar says he plans to press for the U.S. to withhold visas from countries that won't accept the return of their criminals.

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