Going into November's elections, congressional Democrats are outbidding the White House on spending for immigration enforcement, with a special emphasis on deporting people convicted of major drug offenses and violent crimes, reports Politico.com. Targeting convicted criminals is seen as safe ground for the party and a pressure point to highlight shortcomings in the current enforcement system. A Homeland Security budget bill now moving through the House specifies that at least $800 million be spent after Oct. 1 to identify and remove the most violent and dangerous criminals from the U.S.
Federal immigration enforcers estimate that between 300,000 to 450,000 illegal immigrants convicted of a crime are detained each year in federal, state, county and local facilities – all subject to deportation. It was only last winter that the ICE agency finally reached a point where it had 100 percent screening of state prisons. Huge information gaps remain regarding prisoners in 3,100 county and local jails. Homeland Security officials say any long-term solution rests on investing in new technologies and improved interoperability to give ICE a virtual presence throughout prisons and jails nationwide. There has been a steady escalation in the number of prisoners identified and charged for removal.