The Houston Chronicle’s series on immigrants in the local justice system has been critiqued by blogger Scott Henson of Gritsforbreakfast, which focuses on Texas criminal justice. The Chronicle reported that 3/4 of illegal immigrants processed through Houston’s Harris County Jail are not flagged for deportation by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. Henson says the Chronicle examined no control group so it’s impossible to know how immigrants’ cases compare with other offenders. The newspaper said, “There is no conclusive research to show whether illegal immigrants are more likely than their U.S.-born counterparts to abscond on state charges while out on bail.” If that’s the case, is this really a story? Henson asks.
He adds: “We know illegal immigrants are much less likely to commit crimes than Americans; it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re also less likely to abscond or commit new offenses while on bail. Even if you deport somebody, Henson says, it’s still pretty easy to get back across the river. While many people see deportation as a fitting punishment when an illegal immigrant commits a crime, in reality it does little to keep the bad guys from returning. Though the Chronicle criticized placing illegal immigrants on probation, in some instances that’s a safer bet for the public than shipping somebody back to their home country, says Henson. When that happens, they can come back any time they like with no probation or oversight.