Lawmakers Demand Answers About Illegal Immigrant Gang Member Who Assaulted Police Officer

Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has 10 days to complete a homework assignment. But this assignment, given to him via a strongly worded letter by the chairmen of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, doesn’t involve math, science, or literature: it involves telling the truth about the violent criminal past of a known MS-13 gang member who viciously attacked a Maryland police officer for no reason.police line do not cross

Oh, and he is in the country illegally, had been in the custody of the U.S. Border Patrol, but was released pending his removal hearing.

It seems the secretary has some explaining to do.

According to the Frederick County Sheriff’s office, at 9:30 a.m. on Nov.5, Deputy First Class Greg Morton responded to a minor traffic accident involving a county vehicle.  While in his marked vehicle completing the accident report, Morton witnessed Jose Misael Reyes-Reyes banging on his back driver’s side window.  Morton turned to see what was happening at which time Reyes-Reyes punched Morton in the face and neck through the open driver window.  Morton pushed Reyes-Reyes away from him, got out of the patrol car, pointed a Taser at Reyes-Reyes, ordering him to get to the ground.  Morton then handcuffed Reyes-Reyes and placed him under arrest, at which time Reyes-Reyes began kicking the officer and tried to get away, but was subdued by the officer.

 A background check of Reyes-Reyes revealed that he was a MS-13 gang member, had been arrested in June on charges of malicious destruction of property, and in May for carrying a concealed weapon.  Reyes-Reyes was awaiting a deportation hearing, but had been released on bond by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency—a component of the Department of Homeland Security.

Sen.  Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., want Secretary Johnson to answer seven questions about Reyes-Reyes.  They are:

  1. Please identify and explain each and every encounter that the Department of Homeland Security or any of its agencies has had with Reyes-Reyes, including the date of the encounter, whether the encounter resulted in detention or the issuance of a detainer or request for notification, whether the encounter resulted in the initiation of removal proceedings or reinstatement of a prior removal order against Reyes-Reyes, and the current status of those removal proceedings or reinstatement.

  2. Please identify each and every date on which Reyes-Reyes was arrested by a law enforcement agency in the United States, including criminal and civil arrests, the nature of the charges, the jurisdictions where the arrests occurred, the dispositions of the charges, the dates on which Reyes-Reyes was released from the custody of the law enforcement agencies, and the reasons for the release.

  3. Were any detainers or requests for notification about the release of Reyes-Reyes issued by the Department of Homeland Security to any state, local or federal jurisdiction or agency?

  4. Did Reyes-Reyes ever apply for any immigration benefits, including deferred action?  If so, was any application approved?  Please provide copies of any applications that Reyes-Reyes may have submitted.

  5. Please provide a copy of the alien file for Reyes-Reyes.

  6. Please provide any other information collected or maintained by DHS, including ICE or CBP, regarding Reyes-Reyes.

  7. If Reyes-Reyes had been encountered by DHS enforcement officials prior to his arrest in connection with the above mentioned crimes, would he have met the requirements to be considered a priority for removal under PEP?  If so, please provide the exact reason for such consideration.  If not, why not?

They also point out in their letter that the Privacy Act “authorizes disclosure of information to Committees of Congress.”

The Reyes immigration case is sadly, not unique.  How DHS answers the chairmen’s questions will tell us a lot about their respect for the rule of law, and the oversight duty of a co-equal branch of government.

This is a guest post from the Daily Signal by Charles “Cully” D. Stimson a leading expert in criminal law, military law, military commissions and detention policy at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies.