John Fabbricatore’s Opening Statement at House Judiciary Hearing on the Consequences of Criminal Aliens on U.S. Communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, former senior U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) official John Fabbricatore – who also serves as an advisory board member at the National Immigration Center for Enforcement (NICE) – delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during a House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement hearing on the consequences of criminal aliens on American communities.

“Chairman McClintock, Ranking Member Jayapal, and distinguished members of the subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to present testimony on the current state of immigration enforcement. 

“After decades serving at ICE, I feel compelled to testify today about the erosion of immigration enforcement and lack of respect for the rule of law.

“Every American should be concerned about what the Biden Administration is doing. Their current policies are putting our communities at risk and negatively affecting public safety and national security.

“Right out the gate, Secretary Mayorkas began to gut interior immigration enforcement with extremely narrow enforcement priorities for ICE. He justified it on the false premise that ICE couldn’t effectively enforce the law due to lack of resources.

“ICE statistics paint a grim picture of the effects of these priorities. If you compare ICE arrests from 2018 to 2020, civil arrests are down 69%, convicted criminal arrests are down 65%, and everything from homicides, to assaults, to weapon offenses are down as high as 61%. There are fewer criminals being arrested. Plain and simple.   

“I would further note that there are hundreds of thousands of criminal aliens at large in the United States. The Biden Administration has stated that there are over 400,000 convicted criminals on the non-detained docket. Why aren’t they a priority?   

“Furthermore, recidivist rates have shown from prior fiscal year reports that most criminal aliens have additional criminal convictions. In 2020, the 93,000 criminal aliens arrested by ERO with criminal histories accounted for 374,000 criminal charges and convictions, about 4 per alien. Even with the paltry number of arrests made in 2022, the 46,000 aliens arrested with criminal histories accounted for nearly 200,000 convictions and charges. 

“If the Biden Administration conducted interior enforcement against criminal illegal aliens in the same manner as was always done in the prior Republican and Democrat Administrations I served in, there would have been another 90,000 aliens arrested who would have accounted for approximately another 300,000 convictions and charges.

“As an ICE Field Office Director, I witnessed the deterioration of relationships with local law enforcement agencies because of sanctuary policies. Nationwide, we see a growing separation between ICE and local law enforcement. The belief that partnership between ICE and other law enforcement entities breeds distrust in immigrant communities is false.

“Prior to the rise of sanctuary policies, detainers were a useful tool. A detainer is placed on an alien who has been arrested by state or local law enforcement. Instead of releasing the alien back to the streets, the detainer requires law enforcement agencies to hold the alien so ICE may make an administrative arrest. Law Enforcement used to honor detainers more widely until policies were implemented prohibiting the practice.

“In 2016, I was part of an operation designed to target alien heroin trafficking. When the Mayor and city council members found out that ICE was working with Denver Police on this operation, Denver Police commanders were told to stop the operation and remove ICE from the building. Denver Police shut down the operation after only two weeks. When operational, 54 illegal aliens were arrested for heroin-related crimes. Regardless of the results, Denver refused to work with ICE claiming that it disrupted their ability to work with the “immigrant” community. This argument is invalid as it allows citizens to die from heroin overdoses rather than having local law enforcement and ICE work together to save lives. 

“In 2020, an illegal alien who previously had DACA was arrested for murder for giving fentanyl and cocaine to a 16-year-old girl at a party.  While the girl lay dying of an overdose, the alien was too busy raping a 14-year-old who was under the influence of the drugs to call an ambulance.  Upon arrest, ICE filed a detainer.  Local law enforcement was prohibited from honoring it and a drug dealer and sexual predator with admitted gang ties was allowed to walk out of jail as locals chose to ignore ICE’s request.

“ICE can only remain an effective enforcer of immigration laws through collaboration with local law enforcement. Such cooperation is proven to prevent illegal aliens convicted of criminal activity from victimizing our communities. Instead, sanctuary policies are utilized by the gangs and other criminal aliens who rely on this sanctuary to commit crimes in every U.S. community.  In the fight against opioids, fentanyl, and increased gang activity, this cooperation is critical.    

“In 2015, I included Denver Sheriff’s Department Gang Intelligence Deputies on a national task force operation targeting transnational gangs. Due to great teamwork, we identified numerous cases and arrested over a dozen gang members with criminal backgrounds. The state sanctuary policy ended that collaboration between ICE and the Denver Sheriff’s Department. By refusing to cooperate with ICE, sanctuary cities are sending a message that they don’t value the lives of citizens or the safety of our communities.

“Robust immigration enforcement strategies must be developed to protect our country from the risks of criminal illegal aliens. The first step must be returning to the rule of law and through the enforcement of immigration laws mandated by the INA. Criminal aliens should be detained and expeditiously removed from the country. ICE should be directed to address the millions of final removal orders that have been issued by Immigration Judges yet ignored for years. Congress must help ICE by invalidating departmental policies that handcuff the agency and prioritize slim and ambiguous categories of cases. 

“Thank you and I look forward to your questions.”

Fabbricatore’s full written testimony can be accessed here.

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