Long after they were ordered out of the country, thousands of criminal aliens from places like China, Cuba, Vietnam and Pakistan remain free in the United States to commit new crimes because their home countries refuse to take them back.
For years, this unique problem percolated under the political radar. But recent crimes by immigrant felons have lawmakers scrambling to punish nations that refuse to repatriate their own citizens. The Obama administration and many Democrats in Congress, however, are blocking punitive legislation, preferring to let the State Department handle the issue diplomatically.
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, is leading the charge in Congress to change the law, pushing to withhold visas to nations that refuse to take back their own.
“I don’t know why the State Department seems to take the side of foreign countries over our own American interest in the United States,” Poe said, urging the U.S. to tell those countries: “Look, you take these people back or the consequence is going to be no visas for your nation.”
Under a 2001 Supreme Court decision, U.S. immigration officials are only permitted to hold someone for six months after their incarceration. So when a home nation refuses to take back their national, the U.S. is required to release them — no matter what they’ve done.