U.S. can't deport 701 violent convicted criminals in Pacific Northwest

Article author: 
David Ham
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Article date: 
Tuesday, February 3, 2015
Article category: 
Oregon Issues
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For the first time, Immigration Customs and Enforcement has released new numbers on the number of violent convicted criminals ordered deported in the Pacific Northwest.

ICE says there are 701 "Level 1" offenders tracked by the Seattle field office. This includes Washington State, Oregon and Alaska.

According to ICE, "Level 1 offenders are those aliens convicted of “aggravated felonies,” as defined in § 101(a)(43) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, or two (2) or more crimes each punishable by more than 1 year, commonly referred to as 'felonies'."

There are a total of 870 convicted criminals in the area ordered deported. (Click here to see a map of the countries least responsive to ICE request.)

One of the violent criminals ordered deported is Tra Young. He's serving a seven-year prison sentence for an unprovoked attack on a 58 year old man last March in Beacon Hill.

"It was like a horror movie," said Maura Whalen, who witnessed the attack.

The man was getting off a bus to go to Church.

"It was very very violent and horrific," Whalen added, "No weapons but repeatedly punching kicking and kicking in the face."

Whalen didn't know at the time the federal government has tried to deport Young, a Vietnamese national, for nearly a decade.

But Vietnamese authorities refuse to take him back.

Young has victimized people in our neighborhoods and has a long criminal history, from assault, drugs and burglary.

The most infamous incident was at this 2013 Susan G. Komen race, when he was arrested for trying to kidnap a 4-year-old boy.

Young's crimes are the real-life consequences of global political and diplomacy failures.

Immigration expert Steve Miller says right now there's no solution.

"In order to be able to put a person on an airplane out of the United States they've got to have permission from the place where it lands to let them in," Miller added, "almost all the countries in the world will abide by that but some countries we don’t have relations with or have only had recent relations with or some countries which have ceased to exist makes it more complicated."

Because of the 2001 Zadvydas v. Davis supreme court ruling, convicted criminals ordered to be deported can only be held for six months after serving their time - then they have to be released.

"I think that's what's disturbing and worries people that this is still possible and imagine how the families feel that the person who committed this crime is not even supposed to be in the country," said Paul Guppy, Washington Policy Center.

In Young's case, he arrived before 1995, when the U.S. had no diplomatic relations with Vietnam.

Vietnam believes the current treaty it shares with the U-S does not require it to accept people who left Vietnam before 1995.

That's also reason ICE can't deport Binh Thai Luc, who is awaiting trial in San Francisco for murdering five people in 2012.

ICE says these 23 countries have had the slowest response in taking back convicted criminals.

Vietnam, Cambodia, and Somalia have been identified as the most "recalcitrant" with Somalia taking an average of 344 days to issue travel documents.

In Yury Decyatnik's case, he was ordered to go to the Ukraine back in 2002 for a domestic violence conviction.

The problem is he was there when the Ukraine was the USSR so the Ukraine won't take him back.

"I want to leave should be simple right?" said Decyatnik.

He even admitted resorting to threats at the Homeland Security Building in Tukwila to bolster his case.

"When you have a dangerous person and the government is forced to release them into the community that doesn't make any sense to me," said Guppy.

Congress debated a bill that would allow indefinite detention for dangerous foreign nationals, but the measure died last year.

Which leaves us with the status quo and 701 violent criminals in our region who aren't supposed to be here - -just like Tra Young.

He's currently locked up in Walla Walla for assault, but his crimes continue to impact the community.

"It's a horrific thing I’d like to block out of my own memory," said Whalen.

"ICE only has so much resources. I think the real emphasis has got to be who are the priorities to get off the streets to keep off the streets for purposes of public safety," said MIller.