November 17, 2008
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
Federal immigration officials allowed scores of violent criminals — some ordered deported decades ago — to walk away from Harris County Jail despite the inmates’ admission to local authorities that they were in the country illegally, a Houston Chronicle investigation found.
A review of thousands of criminal and immigration records shows that Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials didn’t file the paperwork to detain roughly 75 percent of the more than 3,500 inmates who told jailers during the booking process that they were in the U.S. illegally.
Although most of the inmates released from custody were accused of minor crimes, hundreds of convicted felons — including child molesters, rapists and drug dealers — also managed to avoid deportation after serving time in Harris County’s jails, according to the Chronicle review, which was based on documents filed over a period of eight months starting in June 2007, the earliest immigration records available.