FIRST ON FOX: Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, in an interim report to be published Tuesday, are faulting the Biden administration’s “failure to enforce U.S. immigration law” for the release of a 16-year-old illegal immigrant into the U.S and suspected MS-13 gang member., who is now charged with the murder and sexual assault of a 20-year-old autistic woman in Maryland.
“A tragic example of the failure to enforce U.S. immigration law under Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas’ watch is the murder and sexual assault of 20-year-old Kayla Hamilton in Aberdeen, Maryland in July 2022,” the interim report, a copy of which was obtained by Fox News Digital says.
Republicans on the Committee opened an investigation in February into the circumstances of Hamilton’s death. The suspect, arrested in January, is an illegal immigrant and alleged MS-13 gang member, who police said entered the U.S. via Rio Grande City, Texas as an unaccompanied child in March 2022 and was transferred to a woman identified as his aunt in Frederick, Maryland. He is charged with strangling Hamilton, who was autistic, to death.
Unaccompanied children are moved from Border Patrol custody into Health and Human Services (HHS) care, and are typically then transferred to a sponsor — normally a parent or relative — who is already in the U.S. With the 2021 migrant crisis, which is still ongoing, the U.S. saw a surge in UAC encounters. In FY 2022, there were over 152,000 encounters of UACs.
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The interim report said that the committee’s oversight “revealed that the Biden Administration insufficiently vetted Kayla’s murderer and allowed him to enter the country.”
“Tragically, Secretary Mayorkas and his department missed key warning signs about the alien’s propensity for violence, which law enforcement officials investigating the murder later uncovered,” the report says.
Among the details was that the alleged murderer had already been arrested in El Salvador for “illicit association” with the deadly street gang, and this was discovered by contacting officials in the country.
Additionally, the suspect had gang tattoos, something that did not come up in his files, and emerged in case notes by law enforcement only a few months later, although the report notes it is possible he could have received the tattoos after entering the U.S. Additionally, the staff found that he was placed in a foster home even while his homicide charge was pending and after he was found to be affiliated with MS-13.
The report also says his case file is filled with notations saying he had no behavioral issues and “demonstrated good judgment and age-appropriate behaviors.”
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“The Biden Administration’s open-borders policies have created vulnerabilities that criminal aliens and gang members exploit to the detriment of American citizens. The sad fact is that Secretary Mayorkas and the Biden Administration have failed to implement basic screening and vetting measures—such as checking with law enforcement officials in an alien’s home country—to ensure that those entering the U.S. are not dangerous criminals or known gang members,” the report concludes. “At the same time, they continue to tell the American people that illegal aliens encountered along the southwest border are vetted adequately. This callous disregard for the safety of Americans, in the name of expedited alien processing, resulted in the tragic and preventable murder of Kayla Hamilton.”
The Judiciary Committee’s Immigration subcommittee is holding a hearing on Tuesday, “The Biden Border Crisis: Part III,” which will include testimony from Hamilton’s mother, as well as former Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott.
The administration has come under fire for its handling of UACs. A series of New York Times reports detailed how HHS was unable to contact over 85,000 minors it transferred to sponsors, and how the administration allegedly ignored an “explosion” of minors being put into the labor force. The administration has also come under criticism from Republicans for relaxing vetting procedures.
The House Judiciary Republicans said that HHS declined to provide requested materials in full to the committee, citing a concern for the privacy of the suspect accused of the murder, only allowing for a review of the file while being recorded with a camera.
The report concludes that if DHS and HHS had “adequately vetted” the suspect before he was placed with a sponsor, “the tragedy of Kayla’s murder would have been avoided.”
The report comes as immigration and border security have been back in the headlines with the ending of Title 42 and the Biden administration’s efforts to replace the order with regular enforcement. The administration has called for more funding from Congress and for it to pass an immigration reform bill.
Republicans have blamed the crisis on the Biden administration’s policies, including reduced enforcement in the interior and “catch-and-release” policies. The House recently passed a GOP border security and asylum reform bill, which was the product of work from the Judiciary, Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs Committees.
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