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DHS Stops Deporting Many Illegal Convicted Felons, Says They’re Not ‘Priority’

Washington, DC – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has cancelled the deportations of a number of convicted felon illegal immigrants because the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) no longer considers them to be “priority” removals.

The list of prisoners who were no longer “priority” included Heriberto Fuerte-Padilla, a Mexican national who was driving drunk when he smashed into a car holding 19-year-old Adrienne Sophia Exum in November of 2020, according to MEAWW.

Exum wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and she was killed when Fuerte-Padilla’s Dodge pickup truck struck her Mazda 3 and she was ejected from the vehicle, KTRK reported.

Fuerte-Padilla fled the scene but was chased down by an off-duty police officer and charged with DUI and failing to render aid, the Daily Mail reported.

His criminal case is ongoing but ICE put a detainer on him when he was first arrested that Exum’s family members took that to mean the young woman’s killer would be deported from the United States when he was released.

“I really want to know why,” her mother, Rhonda Exum, told FOX News. “By him not being deported, it’s like you telling me my daughter’s life didn’t mean anything.”

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued new rules in September of 2021 that said ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) would stop deporting illegal immigrants with less severe criminal records, the Daily Mail reported.

“For the first time, our guidelines will, in the pursuit of public safety, require an assessment of the individual and take into account the totality of the facts and circumstances. …” Mayorkas touted in a statement, according to FOX News.
“The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen therefore should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them,” the DHS secretary told agents and officers. “We will use our discretion and focus our enforcement resources in a more targeted way. Justice and our country’s well-being require it.”

Under the new rules, an illegal immigrant has to be a national security risk, a recent border jumper, or a risk to public safety before they can be considered for deportation, The Washington Times reported.

But the lack of definition for who constitutes a risk to public safety has already begun causing problems.

ICE notified Texas that it had cancelled deportation requests — known as “detainers” — on a number of illegal immigrants including some who pleaded guilty to felony charges of evading arrest and had convictions for drunken driving, drug possession, or domestic assault injuring a family member, The Washington Times reported.

In addition to releasing Fuerte-Padilla, the state of Texas was also notified the ICE no longer wanted to deport Jose Godoy Vasquez, an illegal immigrant from Guatemala, when he is released from prison, the Daily Mail reported.

Vasquez has multiple drunk driving, drug possession, and domestic violence charges spanning from 2013 to 2021, and is serving a prison sentence through 2025.

ICE had issued a detainer on Vasquez previously but told Texas in January that the hold had been cancelled under Mayorkas’ new guidelines, according to the Daily Mail.

Texas was also notified that a convicted felon named Nay Thar from Thailand wouldn’t be deported when he was released in January.

Thar has convictions for drug possession, drunken driving, fleeing police, and sneaking contraband into prison, the Daily Mail reported.

Texas prison records indicated that Thar has since been released from custody.

Rhonda Exum said that she voted for President Joe Biden and now feels like his administration has let her down by not deporting the man responsible for her daughter’s death, FOX News reported.

“I thought he was going to talk for the American people, basically, and not for himself,” she said. “I don’t feel that he has done anything but disappoint.”

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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