New Report Finds California Has Lower Rate of Deporting Criminal Aliens vs. Other States

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By Maria Fotopoulos

Maria is a CAPS Senior Writing Fellow who focuses on the impacts of growth on biodiversity. Find her on Twitter | in | FB.

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February 11, 2011
Maria FotopoulosA new report from the Department of Homeland Security, Office of the Inspector General, found that California is not as successful at deporting criminal illegal aliens as some other states. About four in 100 criminal illegal aliens remain in the state when they should be deported. The report, "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Identification of Criminal Aliens in Federal and State Custody Eligible for Removal from the United States," summarized an audit of the Criminal Alien Program during the 2009 fiscal year. This program is responsible for identifying criminal aliens incarcerated in local, state and federal lockups who are eligible for deportation. Criminal aliens eligible for deportation include those who have entered the U.S. illegally and who have been convicted of any crime, as well as legal permanent residents who have been convicted of a removable offense, which is defined in the "Immigration and Nationality Act." The audit looked at a sample of foreign-born inmates in state facilities in California, Florida, New York and Texas, as well as in federal prisons. According to the audit report, the Criminal Alien Program successfully screened and identified 99 percent of the criminal aliens in federal custody who were deportable. Looking at the four states, however, the program did not identify approximately 4 percent and 2 percent of deportable criminal aliens in California and Texas, respectively. Staffing challenges, poor record-keeping and increasing workloads were the reasons given for lower identification of these deportable individuals. Among those released were criminal aliens who had been convicted of assault, narcotics distribution and firearms possession. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) estimates that between 300,000 and 450,000 deportable criminal aliens are detained at local, state and federal prisons annually. Nationwide, California has the largest percentage of foreign-born inmates in state custody at 28 percent. Texas follows with 23 percent; New York has 9 percent, Florida has 4 percent; and other states and territories account for the remaining 36 percent. According to the report, ICE is implementing recommendations to address problems.
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