Democrat and Republican lawmakers in Congress are calling for federal legislation that would compel the US State Department to play “hardball” and deny diplomatic visas to nations that block deportation of thousands of foreign criminals, many of whom are released to US streets instead.
Representative Ted Poe, a Republican from Texas, said members of both parties are dispatching staff to a meeting Friday to try to advance legislation he filed last year requiring the State Department to sanction more than 20 countries that routinely stall deportations of their citizens.
The Globe reported Sunday that federal immigration officials have released more than 8,500 convicted murderers, rapists, and other violent criminals since 2008, including as many as 10 convicted murderers in New England and 201 nationwide, because their home countries did not take them back.
Current law allows the State Department to deny visas, which allow entry to the United States, to nations that refuse to take back convicted criminals. But since 2001, officials have only used that power against tiny Guyana in South America.
“The State Department doesn’t enforce the law,” Poe said in a speech Wednesday on the House floor that an aide said was inspired by the Globe series, “Justice in the Shadows.” “We need to get these people out of our country . . . and these countries need to take them back, or there ought to be a consequence.”
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