Almost a Quarter of Federal Prisoners are Immigrants, According to DHS

Almost a Quarter of Federal Prisoners are Immigrants, According to DHS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its latest report on incarcerated aliens Tuesday, showing nearly a quarter of all federal prisoners are immigrants.

Of the 187,855 inmates in Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) custody, 42,034 — or 22 percent — are foreign-born aliens, according to the DHS figures.

The foreign-born share of the overall U.S. population is estimated at 13.5 percent.

About 45 percent of the incarcerated aliens have been issued final orders of removal, and 3 percent have cases pending adjudication before an immigration judge. Nearly all of the rest are under investigation by immigration authorities for possible deportation.

The DHS report, a joint effort by BOP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is required under President Donald Trump’s January executive order on public safety. The previous iteration, released May 2, showed 41,544 aliens in the federal prison system. In addition to the BOP prisoners, the U.S. Marshals Service maintains custody of 12,000 “self-reporting” foreign-born prisoners in pre-trial detention, about 24 percent of the total number in USMS custody. More then 80 percent those aliens have final orders of removal, according to the DHS report.

DHS says it “continues to progress” toward collecting data on the immigrant population is state and local jails, which do not keep uniform records about the immigration status of prisoners.

The average annual cost of incarcerating a single federal prisoner is about $32,000, according to a BOP report.

Under President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration enforcement, DOJ must collect data and provide quarterly reports on the immigration status of all aliens in the federal prison system. The department shares on a daily basis the identifying information of federal prisoners with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which uses the data to make a determination about the immigration status of each inmate.

In addition to the 54 percent of alien prisoners who have been issued orders of removal, another 33 percent — 13,886 inmates — are under ICE investigation for possible deportation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made the expedited removal of criminal aliens from the prison system a DOJ priority. He expanded a program in March that uses in-person and video conference immigration hearings to determine whether criminal aliens, regardless of legal status, should be deported immediately upon completion of their sentences.

“Illegal aliens who commit additional crimes in the United States are a threat to public safety and a burden on our criminal justice system,” Sessions said in a May statement.

“This is why we must secure our borders through a wall and effective law enforcement, and we must strengthen cooperation between federal, state and local governments as we strive to fulfill our sacred duty of protecting and serving the American people.”

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