DOJ finds 94 Percent of Foreign Nationals in Federal Prison are Illegal Aliens



On October 16, the Department of Justice released a report revealing 94 percent of aliens in federal incarceration facilities were confirmed to be unlawfully present in the United States during Fiscal Year 2019.

According to the Alien Incarceration Report, the total number of known or suspected foreign nationals in federal prison was 51,074. The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) had 27,494 aliens in custody, and the remaining 23,580 were in the United States Marshal Service (USMS) jailing facilities. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reported the 51,074 known or suspected aliens in BOP and USMS custody in 2019 had the following immigration statuses:

  • 27,266 (52.4 percent) of known or suspected aliens had orders for removal or agreed to depart voluntarily;
  • 18,308 (35.8 percent) of individuals were under investigation by ICE to determine their alienage (These aliens are typically unwilling to produce documentation or information about themselves, and ICE has yet to determine their country of origin);
  • 3,691 (7.2 percent) of individuals were illegal aliens under adjudication;
  • 936 (1.8 percent) of individuals were legal aliens under adjudication;
  • 873 (1.7 percent) were aliens that were granted relief or protection from removal.

The report also detailed that of the 27,494 individuals in BOP custody, 27,125 were convicted of a criminal offense. The primary offenses committed by these foreign nationals are as follows:

  • 13,727 (51 percent) percent of those aliens were convicted of drug trafficking or a drug-related crime as a primary offense;
  • 8,403 (31 percent) had immigration violations as their primary offense, such as smuggling aliens into the U.S. or illegal re-entry after deportation;
  • 1,380 (5.1 percent) committed fraud;
  • 1,086 (4 percent) committed weapons violations (including firearms);
  • 1,007 (3.7 percent) committed racketeering/continuing criminal enterprise (i.e. murder-for hire);
  • 553 (2 percent) committed sex-related crimes;
  • 969 aliens (3.6 percent) were convicted for other serious crimes ranging from murder, rape, kidnapping, and terrorism.

Of the aliens in USMS’s custody, 39 percent were convicted of non-immigration related offenses.  

This alarming data was made public as a result of President Trump’s Executive Order (EO) 13768, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States.” The EO requires federal agencies to enforce immigration law, which includes reporting the effects of illegal immigration and its nexus with public safety, national security, or incarceration. 

While it’s reassuring to see law enforcement incarcerating immigration lawbreakers from further harming the American public, this report should also be a cause for concern. Our southern border is still vulnerable to illegal border crossings and, as data indicates, tens of thousands of illegal aliens have committed serious crimes. And the incarceration figures do include who have been already deported. Completing the wall would likely decrease the number of unlawful entries and prevent possible crimes from occurring.

Additionally, the cost to imprison aliens is a burden on American taxpayers. In the FY 2017 Alien Incarceration Report, foreign nationals (legal and illegal) comprised 26 percent of all federal inmates. According to a FAIR study, American taxpayers shell out $1.2 billion every year to incarcerate criminal illegal aliens. Stopping these migrants from coming to the United States in the first place would not only decrease the risk of American citizens and lawful migrants needlessly falling victim to crimes committed by illegal aliens, it would also save taxpayers a substantial amount of money.

The government’s top priority should be to protect its citizens from threats – both foreign and domestic. As in all areas of law, prevention is the best strategy.

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