High Percent of Federal Prison Inmates in U.S. Illegally

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About one in five federal prison inmates in federal prison are foreign born, and more than 90 percent of those are in the U.S. illegally, said a report from the Trump administration, which has sought to highlight the dangers it says unauthorized immigrants pose to public safety, reports the New York Times. Officials at the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security framed the statistics as evidence that the U.S. needed stricter anti-immigration measures, particularly the wall President Trump has pushed to erect across the southern border. The report arrived 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 U.S. 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,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling on Congress to pass Trump’s immigration agenda. “The simple fact is that any offense committed by a criminal alien is ultimately preventable.” The proportion of unauthorized immigrants in federal prison may be explained partly by the fact that immigration offenses now account for about half of all federal prosecutions, including those for smuggling people into the U.S., illegally entering the country and illegally re-entering  after being deported. The report said that 24,476 of the 185,507 inmates in the federal Bureau of Prisons were not citizens, with 92 percent of those in the U.S. unlawfully, and that 97 percent of the 13,081 confirmed noncitizens held by the Marshals Service — typically people awaiting trial — were in the U.S. unlawfully. Officials cited data from the U.S. 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.

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