U.S. Releases Hundreds of Cuban Criminals in America

jail corridorAn odd loophole in U.S. immigration law, nicknamed the “Zadvydas cases,” bans the government from detaining immigrants indefinitely if their home countries won’t take them back. Each year, hundreds of criminals who were denied entrance back to their home countries are released on American soil. The vast majority of these criminals are from Cuba, China and Vietnam.

All told, the government released 2,457 criminals and 461 non-criminal illegal immigrants onto the streets last year because of the Zadvydas strictures, ICE said. This year, the totals through May 9 were 1,107 criminals and 344 noncriminals.

“The Zadvydas problem is an urgent one, considering that a large percentage of the most serious criminal alien releases are Zadvydas,” said Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies. “Given the obvious public safety risks, the administration should be more aggressive in seeking a solution or in using the tools available to them.”

The Zadvydas ruling states that immigration detention can’t last longer than six months unless there is a clear national security interest.

The issue is even more acute given that Cuba is the biggest offender and President Obama is trying to normalize relations with that nation. Analysts said it would be the perfect time to raise the issue of Zadvydas refusals.

The State Department didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment, but there is no indication that it has raised the issue as part of the talks.