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U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal pressed the director of U.S. Immigrations & Customs Enforcement Wednesday on the agency's failure to deport the accused killer of Norwich resident Casey Chadwick after he served 16 years in prison for attempted murder.
Blumenthal questioned ICE director Sarah R. Saldaña during a Judiciary Committee hearing on the removal of criminal aliens.
Jean Jacques, 41, a Haitian national, is accused of fatally stabbing Chadwick, 25, at her apartment on Spaulding Street on June 15 and leaving her body in a closet.
Her survivors were outraged that Jacques, who had been convicted in a 1996 murder case, was not deported to Haiti after he was released from prison to immigration officials.
Immigration officials have said they were unable to secure travel documents for Jacques to return to Haiti and could not detain him indefinitely as the result of a 2001 Supreme Court decision.
Blumenthal, who with other members of Connecticut's federal delegation last week called on the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security to investigate, told Saldaña he has been "totally dissatisfied" with the information received about the case.
"...It isn't a question of whether he had to be released, it's a question of what was done to deport him and why is he not back in Haiti, and Casey Chadwick still alive," Blumenthal told Saldaña.
He said the efforts to deport Jacques were "abysmally and abhorrently inadequate," and that much more could have been done.
Saldaña said Haiti does not appear to have the interest or resources to work with the United States on repatriation of violent felons, and that ICE "can't just drop them off without the country being in a position to accept them."
Blumenthal asked why ICE hasn't come to Congress or the State Department with the issue.
"Haiti receives a lot of aid from this country, and they have to be held accountable," he said. He said
Saldaña said she would cooperate with the Inspector General's investigation of the matter and agreed to provide Blumenthal with a list of countries that don't cooperate with repatriation of deported criminals.
Chadwick's mother, Wendy Hartling, who has been working with attorney Chester Fairlie and others to change immigration policy, was thrilled to hear Blumenthal has brought the case into the national spotlight.
She and Lori Hopkins-Cavanaugh, a radio host and former Republican Congressional candidate, had confronted Blumenthal about the issue last week at a press conference in Hartford about genetically modified salmon.
"That is exactly what I was hoping for," Hartling said after hearing the Senator had questioned Saldaña for several minutes about Jacques' case.
With the six month anniversary of her daughter's death approaching, she said it's about time something is happening.
"This should have been happening a lot sooner, but it's happening and that's what's important."
New London attorney Chester Fairlie said legislative efforts to withold aid or restrist visas from countries that won't cooperate with immigration matters have been blocked by the State Department, which considers the measures an imposition on their authority to conduct foreign policy.
He said efforts to make the deportation process more transparent have encountered opposition even from ICE, which initially refused to provide information about the Jacques case, claiming Jacques had a privacy interest.
The agency has also blocked the Boston Globe's request for the names and addresses of people found guilty of aggravated felonies and not deported, Fairlie said.
"It's ironic that ICE, which is supposed to protect the public interest by carrying out deportation of these immigrants who have commtted aggravated felonies, ends up protecting them and claiming they don't have to give up information because of confidentiality," Fairlie said.
Blumenthal told the ICE director that the presence of criminals who have no right to be in the country undermines the credibility and legitimacy of the nation's immigration effort.
The issue coincides with the national debate on accepting refugees from Syria with limited information on their backgrounds.
"How can we consider allowing large numbers of those people to come in when we cannot even protect the public interest when we've identified a person and have him in custody and still can't deport him," said Fairlie. "These issues are related, sadly."