The Department of Homeland Security told Congress in a letter that surfaced Friday that it has failed to remove nearly 1 million illegal aliens who had previously been ordered deported, and that 179,000 of those aliens had been convicted of a criminal offense.

DHS provided those details in response to a letter the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest sent over the summer, which asked for details about the number of criminal aliens ordered deported.

"American families remain in danger for the simple tragic reason that our laws are not enforced," Stephen Miller, communications director to the Subcommittee Chair Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told the Washington Examiner after the letter was released.

Republicans have charged that fewer criminal aliens are being deported as a result of the Priority Enforcement Program, which replaced Secure Communities last November as part of the president's executive action on immigration. The new program's top priority is removing individuals who pose a severe threat to national security or public safety, but many GOP lawmakers say that's a reduced standard that is preventing the deportation of some with criminal records.

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