This week, Florida sued the Biden administration for its reckless decision to stop detaining and deporting almost all serious criminal immigrants. I feel passionately about this subject because it hits close to home. As many may know, my husband is a law enforcement officer. Not only will this absurd, radical policy decision place our communities in danger, it will unnecessarily expose Florida law enforcement officers to greater risk and burden. And while law enforcement officers knowingly sign up to put their lives behind the safety of others, the President should not take that service for granted by making utterly misguided policy decisions just to satisfy political extremists. It is not only ignorant of the realities we face in our communities, but immoral.
My first job, as your Attorney General, is to protect Floridians. The Biden administration’s irresponsible action puts public safety at risk. These are not immigrants charged or convicted of trivial crimes. These are burglars, domestic batterers, drug dealers and other dangerous criminals here illegally, who have significant arrest histories and are being released back into our communities. Criminals with even worse convictions will be released in the coming weeks as this appalling policy continues. And, when these criminals return to our communities, it is almost a certainty that they will commit more crime in Florida.
According to the federal government’s own study of the recidivism rates of state prisoners, 68% will be arrested again within three years of release and a staggering 83% will be arrested again, at least once, within nine years following release. In nine years following their release, the average released individual will be arrested an additional five times. If we deported these individuals, none of those encounters with law enforcement would occur, none of the cost to our criminal justice system will be incurred, and none of the likely victims of those future crimes will exist. This is a self-inflicted wound on our communities and our criminal justice system for which there is no reason.
This issue, until now, was non-partisan and non-controversial. In decades past, Presidents, including President Obama, detained and deported most criminal immigrants. President Biden’s radical decision to abandon his responsibility, mandated by federal law, is tantamount to abolishing important requirements of immigration enforcement without congressional approval.
This is not immigration reform. This is blatant disregard for our laws, for which every other citizen is held accountable.
Ashley Moody is the Attorney General of Florida.