Around one in five—or 20 percent—of inmates in federal prisons are foreign-born, and more than 90 percent of those are in the United States illegally, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) report released this week.
The report, titled “Alien Incarceration Report Fiscal Year 2017, Quarter 4,” reveals that a total of 58,766 known or suspected aliens were in in Department of Justice (DOJ) custody at the end of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017.
Of this total, 37,557 people had been confirmed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be aliens (i.e., non-citizens and non-nationals), while 21,209 foreign-born people were still under investigation by ICE to determine alienage.
Among the 37,557 confirmed aliens, 35,334 people (94 percent) were unlawfully present, the report said.
These numbers include a 92 percent unlawful rate among 24,476 confirmed aliens in [Federal Bureau of Prisons] BOP custody and a 97 percent unlawful rate among 13,081 confirmed aliens in [U.S. Marshals Service] USMS custody.
The report did not include data on the foreign-born or alien populations in state prisons and local jails because state and local facilities do not routinely provide DHS or DOJ with comprehensive information about their inmates and detainees.
“This limitation is noteworthy because state and local facilities account for approximately 90 percent of the total U.S. incarcerated population,” the report pointed out.
DHS and DOJ are working to develop a reliable methodology for estimating the status of state and local incarcerated populations in future reports.
The report arrives as the White House and Republicans in Congress insist that any legislative deal to restore legal protections for young immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children must include more restrictions on legal and illegal immigration.
“At the border and in communities across America, our citizens are being victimized by illegal aliens who commit crimes,” the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said in a statement on Thursday, calling on Congress to pass President Trump’s immigration agenda.
“The simple fact is that any offense committed by a criminal alien is ultimately preventable.”
Administration officials have repeatedly emphasized what it says are links between unauthorized immigrants and crime, even opening an office to advocate for the victims of crimes committed by immigrants.
Immigration offenses now account for about half of all federal prosecutions, including those for smuggling people into the United States, illegally entering the country and illegally re-entering the country after being deported.
The report, which offers a statistical sketch of people in federal custody at the end of the 2017 fiscal year, is the third released by the government since Trump issued an executive order in January directing officials to collect data on the immigration status of federal inmates.
The report did not specify which types of crimes the foreign-born inmates were convicted of, but senior administration officials said future reports would include such information.
In the meantime, they pointed reporters to data from the United States Sentencing Commission, which they said indicated that noncitizens were convicted of offenses related to immigration, money laundering and drugs at a disproportionate rate along the southern border.