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Iraqi Refugee Charged with Attempted Murder of Colorado Springs Police Officer

A man accused of the attempted murder of a Colorado police officer was a freed refugee who avoided deportation despite a 5-year criminal history.

According to the Washington Times, Karrar Noaman al Khammasi, an Iraqi refugee now charged with the attempted murder of Colorado Springs Police Officer Cem Duzel, was in ICE custody in 2016. After nine encounters with police, including drunk driving, trespassing, assault, extortion and illegally possessing a firearm, he was noticed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in April 2016. He was ordered to be deported on June 13, 2016. However, he was released due to a court decision that ruled his previous convictions not serious enough for deportation.

Khammasi was arrested after the Aug. 2 shootout with Colorado Springs officers. He was admitted into the U.S. in 2012 as a refugee from Iraq. His first encounters with police began a year later and eventually totaled nine, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported.

But just months before Khammasi’s scheduled deportation date, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in an appeal of another deportation case, Golicov v. Lynch. The court found the deportation law too vague when it came to defining crimes that rose to the level of getting legal immigrants deported. Afterwards, Khammasi’s case was reopened and he was released from custody on Nov. 7, 2016. Khammasi quickly racked up more criminal charges, culminating in the attempted murder allegation.

The Trump administration appealed the 10th Circuit’s ruling, but the Supreme Court was already hearing a similar case out of the 9th Circuit, Sessions v. Dimaya. In April, the high court issued its ruling, 5-4, agreeing with the 10th Circuit that the definition of “aggravated felonies” for immigration purposes was too vague to be constitutionally enforced.

The government warned that the consequences would mean having to release criminals back onto the streets.

“Today’s ruling significantly undermines DHS’s efforts to remove aliens convicted of certain violent crimes, including sexual assault, kidnapping, and burglary, from the United States,” said DHS press secretary Tyler Q. Houlton. “By preventing the federal government from removing known criminal aliens, it allows our nation to be a safe haven for criminals and makes us more vulnerable as a result.”

Kalyna White is the STEM Ambassador to the Board of Directors for Women in Homeland Security. She is the founder of LABUkraine, a non-profit organization that builds computer labs for orphans in Ukraine. Since 2011 she has worked with Women in Homeland Security to encourage middle and high school student to pursue STEM careers by organizing and supporting field trips to STEM missions throughout the homeland security enterprise.

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