A loophole exposed by FOX Undercover is in the national spotlight today as lawmakers in Washington, DC hold a congressional hearing.
It comes after our investigative team discovered the federal government releasing illegal immigrants with violent criminal records, even though it wants to deport them.
Fox Undercover’s local example of the national problem was front and center at the hearing before the Immigration Subcommittee of the Judiciary Committee.
The subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Elton Gallegly, cited the example in the Fox Undercover report as he kicked off the hearing.
“Mrs. Hutchinson's son was attacked while walking home from a football game in Suffolk County just outside of Boston,” said Rep. Gallegly.
Gallegly is referring to the murder of 16 year old Ashton Cline-McMurray who was killed by four teenagers in Revere 11 years ago.
Loeun Heng, an illegal immigrant who pleaded guilty to manslaughter, received a 10 to 12 year sentence.
In March 2010, Heng was released into the custody of ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which planned to deport him to his homeland of Cambodia.
But the federal government eventually let Heng go, saying it had no choice because of a Supreme Court ruling.
With few exceptions, ICE can only detain illegal immigrants for six months while trying to deport them.
“The consequence is that under current law, the government is compelled to release into our communities murderers, child molesters and other predators who pose a clear and direct threat to public safety and national security,” said Thomas Dupree, an attorney who testified at the hearing.
The Keep Our Communities Safe Act would allow ICE to hold illegal immigrants like Heng as long as necessary.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith is sponsoring the bill.
He says ICE has released nearly 4,000 dangerous criminal immigrants every year since 2008.
“Just because a criminal immigrant can not be returned to their home country does not mean they should be freed into our communities,” said Chairman Smith. “Dangerous criminal immigrants need to be detained.”
“I think it’s wonderful. I just wish they'd name it after my son. Like Ashton’s Law or something,” said Sandra Hutchinson, the Revere murder victim’s mother.
Hutchinson blew the whistle on the loophole by calling Fox Undercover after learning her son's killer was released.
“I'm sure if I hadn't said anything and Fox hadn't gotten involved, God knows how many other people would be out there right along with him,” said Hutchinson.
But before anything changes, the bill must pass Congress.
The ACLU is against it. “Of course we should deport people if they flout immigration laws, we should. But if you can't, the constitution doesn't allow you to lock the person up forever,” said Ahilan Arulanantham of the ACLU of Southern California.
Tennessee Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn supports the bill.
"I've read about the case in Boston and my heart goes out to this family and to this mother,” said Rep. Blackburn.
The law has finally caught up with the killer of Hutchinson's son.
Loeun Heng is once again in ICE custody and finally being deported back to Cambodia.
“It seems like time and again when you come to addressing some of these issues it takes media attention or it takes the attention of the voter,” said Rep. Blackburn.
'It remains to be seen whether that attention will pressure lawmakers to pass the Keep Our Communities Safe Act.