At least 304,000 immigrant criminals eligible for deportation are behind bars nationwide, reports the New York Times. It was the first official estimate of the total number of such convicts in federal, state and local prisons and jails. The head of the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, Julie Myers, said the annual number of deportable immigrant inmates was expected to vary from 300,000 to 455,000, or 10 percent of the overall inmate population, for the next few years. She estimated that it would cost at least $2 billion a year to find all those immigrants and deport them.
This week, Myers presented a plan to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security intended to speed the deportation of immigrants convicted of the most serious crimes by linking state prisons and county jails into federal databases that combine FBI fingerprint files with immigration, border and antiterrorism records of the Homeland Security Department. Rep. David Price (D-NC) said the plan failed to focus mainly on illegal immigrants who committed crimes, did not provide for any coordination with immigration courts and justice officials, and included huge unexplained cost increases. Myers said ICE was seeking to expand operations to identify jailed immigrant criminals. The agency is working in all federal and state prisons, but reaches just 300 of 3,100 local jails.