For those of us who have not succumbed to the fairness harangues of amnesty supporters, the only thing worse than tolerating illegal immigration is allowing criminal aliens to stay in the U.S. Our government is holding its options open with respect to non-criminal illegals, as their supporters may come in handy next year. The focus, for now, is on illegals who commit crimes.1
Homeland Security announced 392,000 removals in fiscal year 2010. Over half of those deported were convicted criminals.2 The number sounds large, but 392,000 is less than 4% of the nearly 11 million illegal immigrants within our borders. This is not a criticism of ICE, which must work within the constraints of agenda and resources imposed by our government. It is most definitely a criticism of our government, which needs to stop hinting about immigration reform and amnesty while taxpayers spend billions on criminal aliens.
Criminal Aliens Are An Old Problem That Will Not Go Away
In 1989, House subcommittee testimony showed that 22% of federal prison inmates were not U.S. citizens.3 In California, 20-30% of Los Angeles jail inmates were illegal immigrants.4 24% of criminal aliens released in New York in 1986 never showed up for their deportation court dates.5
The 1980s are long gone, but the problem is still with us. It is now much larger, and has become a lot more expensive.
We Spend Billions to Clothe, House, and Feed Criminal Aliens
Jailing criminal aliens cost an estimated $7.5 billion from 2005 – 2009.6 Annual costs in 2009 to feed, clothe, and otherwise provide for these alien lawbreakers ranged from $12,000 in Texas, to $14,000 in Arizona, to an astounding $34,000 in California.7 While not all criminal aliens are in the U.S. illegally, a recent government report showed that 65% of a sample of 249,000 criminal aliens had been arrested at least once for an immigration offense.8 Criminal offenses can also subject legal aliens to deportation.
Bill Would Make Sure We Kick Them Out
There is no guarantee that criminal aliens who should be deported will be deported. Many have records of multiple arrests, and have committed more than one crime. A Government Accountability Office study showed an average of 7 arrests per criminal alien.9
To ensure that criminal illegal aliens are removed from our society with a minimum of ceremony, Florida Representative Thomas Rooney introduced H.R. 932, the Criminal Alien Removal Act. The bill makes sure that Homeland Security keeps track of incarcerated criminal aliens who are deportable, and kicks them out when their sentences are over.
This is the type of bare bones, problem-solving legislation we need more of. Nice to know someone on Capitol Hill is thinking.
Why Bother to Jail Deportable Criminal Aliens In the First Place?
Deporting criminal aliens after they have served their sentences ignores the question of why we bother to hold them at all. With the exception of violent crimes like rape or murder, or crimes that pose a threat to U.S. security, it makes no sense to spend billions so criminal aliens can pay a debt to a society they are not a part of, and have shown a marked disdain for. Certain deportation is likely a greater punishment than jail, as long as we make sure that those we deport cannot come back. That is why border security is so important, and a better place to spend our billions.
Mexico accounts for the majority of criminal aliens.10 The best approach might be to dump Mexico’s portion on Felipe Calderon’s doorstep. U.S. policy is going in the opposite direction, though. Our president blames our immigration laws for the rigors faced by illegal aliens:
And if we continue on a path we’re on, we will continue to have tensions with our Mexican neighbors; we will continue to have people crossing the borders in a way that is dangerous for them, unfair for those who are applying legally to immigrate; we’re going to continue to have employers who are exploiting workers because they’re not within a legal system, and so oftentimes are receiving less than minimum wage, or don’t have overtime, or being abused in other fashion.11
As long as we have unsecured borders we will have problems with criminal illegal aliens. If we pass a sweeping immigration reform bill, problems with criminal aliens who are legal residents will also increase. Those who come to the U.S. and commit crimes are dangerous and expensive. Calderon has been generous by lending us his citizens, but we have enough for now, and the criminal elements are something we can do without. We went through this with Castro, and do not want to clean up Calderon’s mess, too.
Perhaps Congressman Rooney can come up with a solution for keeping these individuals out. He seems to have a knack for this sort of thing.