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Immigration Law

US Doesn’t Deport Most Foreign Criminals

Posted Jul 6, 2007 6:37 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Recent reports of government raids on companies that employ illegal immigrants and families split up when a non-citizen member living in the U.S. is forced to return to his or her home country focus on foreigners who, for the most part, haven't committed crimes except for living here illegally.

But there is one big group of obvious candidates for deportation that is being ignored. Illegal immigrants convicted of crimes can be readily located in the nation's jails, yet are not being targeted for removal after they complete their sentences, Bloomberg reports.

For years, such criminals were not deported due to lack of funding, and many police and sheriff's departments got into the habit of not notifying federal authorities about deportable convicts in their custody. More than 300,000 are estimated to be imprisoned here, according to a report by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. Yet, at least until now, less than half of the eligible convicts have been deported after their release from prison.

That could soon change, however, under a bill proposed by Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) that would substantially increase funding to identify and remove such convicts. "There's no convincing case," he says, "for putting anything higher on the priority list in terms of deportation than persons who've committed crimes."

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