Local authorities released more than 200 undocumented immigrants from prisons and jails in sanctuary jurisdictions over a week-long span despite pending federal detainment orders, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement reported Monday.
A single county in central Texas accounted for nearly three-fourths of the 206 undocumented immigrants who were released. Travis County authorities freed 142 people who entered the United States illegally and were subject to deportation.
A homicide suspect, a convicted arsonist, and multiple individuals convicted of aggravated assault were among those released by local law enforcement across 118 jurisdictions between Jan. 28 to Feb. 3.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order in January requiring the Department of Homeland Security to issue a weekly "Declined Detainer Outcome Report" detailing law enforcement agencies that are "endangering Americans" by refusing to cooperate with ICE detainers. The report released this week marked the first of the series.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement Monday that the report's findings demonstrate a "clear and ongoing threat to public safety."
"It is not acceptable for jurisdictions to refuse to cooperate with federal law enforcement by releasing criminal aliens back into our communities when our law required them to be deported," Sessions said. "The Department of Justice will use all lawful authority to ensure that criminals who are illegally in this country are detained and removed swiftly and to hold accountable jurisdictions that willfully violate federal law."
Trump has been highly critical of the more than 600 sanctuary jurisdictions in the United States that refuse to hold undocumented immigrants in custody to be picked up by ICE agents and potentially deported. The president threatened in January to withhold federal funds from cities failing to comply with federal immigration orders.
The ICE report identified 10 jurisdictions that routinely reject federal detainers: Clark County, Nevada; Nassau County, New York; Cook County, Illinois; Montgomery County, Iowa; Snohomish County, Washington; Franklin County, New York; Washington County, Oregon; Alachua County, Florida; Franklin County, Iowa; and Franklin County, Pennsylvania.
"When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE's ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission," acting ICE Director Thomas Homan said in a statement.
Homan added that ICE would continue to collaborate with local law enforcement to ensure undocumented immigrants who pose a threat to citizens are not released.