Interior Immigration Enforcement: Programs Targeting Criminal Aliens [December 20, 2012] [open pdf - 686KB]
"Congress has a long-standing interest in seeing that immigration enforcement agencies identify and deport criminal aliens. The expeditious removal of such aliens has been a statutory priority since 1986, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its predecessor agency have operated programs targeting criminal aliens for removal since 1988. These programs have grown substantially since FY2005. Despite the interest in criminal aliens, inconsistencies in data quality, data collection, and definitions make it impossible to precisely enumerate the criminal alien population, defined in this report as all noncitizens ever convicted of a crime. CRS [Congressional Research Service] estimates the number of noncitizens incarcerated in federal and state prisons and local jails--a subset of all criminal aliens--at 173,000 in 2009 (the most recent year for which complete data are available), with state prisons and local jails each accounting for somewhat more incarcerations than federal prisons. The overall proportion of noncitizens in federal and state prisons and local jails corresponds closely to the proportion of noncitizens in the total U.S. population. DHS operates four programs designed in whole or in part to target criminal aliens: the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), Secure Communities, the §287(g) program, and the National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP). The CAP, Secure Communities, and certain §287(g) programs are jail enforcement programs that screen individuals for immigration-related violations as they are being booked into jail and while they are incarcerated; the NFOP and some §287(g) programs are task force programs that target at-large criminal aliens. This report describes how these programs work and identifies their common features and key differences among them."
CRS Report for Congress, R42057