Two members of Congress are calling for legislation that would compel Immigration and Customs Enforcement to help register sex offenders, after the Globe detailed that the agency was releasing hundreds of rapists, child molesters, and others without consistently notifying law enforcement the offenders were living in communities across the United States.
Rep. Bill Keating, a Bourne Democrat and member of the House committees on Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs, called ICE’s lapses "frightening." In a telephone interview, he said the agency’s policy change is insufficient and said he would seek to have the notifications mandated by law.
"There's still gaping holes," Keating said in response to the Globe's article. "You need more than just policies. Policies come and go."
Federal law calls for prisons and jails to notify state and local law officials before releasing sex offenders so that police and, if required, the public, know they are living in the community, according to the Government Accountability Office, a congressional watchdog.
Federal law also calls for prisons and jails to inform sex offenders that they must register their addresses and other information with local police once they are out; failing to register is a crime, though penalties vary by state.
Keating, who is also a former Norfolk district attorney, expressed concern for potential victims of sex offenders. He said many victims are probably also immigrants, and those here without legal papers might be too afraid to call police for fear of deportation.
"The people that would most likely be at risk would be family members and other friends," Keating said. "You're dealing with potentially very vulnerable victims as well."
(This article originally appeared in the Boston Globe)