Report: Nearly 20 Percent of Inmates in Federal Prisons Are Criminal Aliens

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Paula Bolyard
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Article date: 
Sunday, April 7, 2019
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According to a  new report, criminal aliens currently make up nearly 20 percent of the population in the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) system -- a total of 34,776.

David Olen Cross, a Salem, Ore., crime and immigration researcher, looked at the number of foreign nationals in the U.S. BOP system based on the most recent federal report. As of March 30, 2019, there were 179,761 inmates incarcerated in federal prisons across the U.S. Their countries of origin, according to the report, are:

• Mexico 21,668 inmates, 12.1 percent;

• Colombia 1,633 inmates, 0.9 percent;

• Dominican Republic 1,425 inmates, 0.8 percent;

• Cuba 1,169 inmates, 0.7 percent;

• Other/unknown countries 8,881 inmates, 4.9 percent;

• United States 144,985 inmates, 80.7 percent;

Cross, who researches and reports on foreign national crime, said in a press release on Sunday, "Combining March 30th BOP criminal alien inmate numbers, there were 34,776 criminal aliens in the BOP prison system," down slightly from June 2018, when there were just over 38,000. Still, alien inmates make up 19.3 percent of the federal prison population.

Cross added that the 21,668 Mexican nationals incarcerated in the BOP prison system comprise "the vast majority of criminal aliens in federal prisons."

A June 2018 Quarterly Alien Incarceration report from the Department of Justice found:

A total of 57,820 known or suspected aliens were in in DOJ custody at the end of FY 2018 Q1, including 38,132 persons in BOP custody and 19,688 in USMS [U.S. Marshalls Service] custody. Of this total, 42,284 people had been confirmed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be aliens (i.e., non-citizens and non-nationals), while 15,536 aliens were still under investigation by ICE to determine alienage and/or removability.

Among the 42,284 confirmed aliens, 39,413 people (93 percent) were unlawfully present. These numbers include a 62 percent unlawful rate among 38,132 known or suspected aliens in BOP custody and a 78 percent unlawful rate among 19,688 confirmed aliens in USMS custody.

Approximately 16,233 aliens in USMS custody required housing in state, local, and private facilities, which cost $1,458,372.72 a day.

Note that the cost number is only for criminal aliens housed in U.S. Marshals Service facilities -- it does not include the 34,776 incarcerated in BOP facilities, nor those in custody at state and local facilities.

Cross notes that the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons breaks down the prison population into 13 types of offenses, with immigration crimes accounting for only 6.5 percent of the federal prison population -- a total of 10,826 inmates. In other words, only one in three criminal alien inmates housed in the BOP system is incarcerated as a result of immigration crimes.

The DOJ report tabulated BOP statistics from the first quarter of 2018, noting that nearly half (46 percent) were incarcerated as the results of drug trafficking or other drug-related offenses. But the incarcerations were not limited to drug crimes, as this chart from the DOJ shows:

These numbers do not include known or suspected criminal aliens being held by the U.S. Marshals Service or in state and local facilities.

The 2018 DOJ report cited examples of newly incarcerated or sentenced BOP inmates:

• Anibel Rondolpho Rodriguez, an illegal alien from Honduras who was residing in Freeport, NY, was sentenced to 45 years in prison after he pled guilty to racketeering charges, two murder conspiracies, two attempted murders, and threatening to commit assault.

• Eduardo Martinez, an illegal alien who was residing in Fort Wayne, Indiana, was sentenced to 324 months in prison after he pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute more than a kilogram of heroin, distribution of over 50 grams of methamphetamine, and possession of a firearm.

• Pedro Quintero-Enriques, an illegal alien from Mexico who was residing in Summerdale, Alabama, was sentenced to 108 months in prison after he pled guilty to illegal reentry after deportation and felon in possession of firearms.

Then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at the time the report was issued, "The illegal immigrant crime rate in this country should be zero." He added, "Every crime committed by an illegal alien is, by definition, a crime that should have been prevented. It is outrageous that tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year because of the drugs and violence brought over our borders illegally and that taxpayers have been forced, year after year, to pay millions of dollars to incarcerate tens of thousands of illegal aliens."