CRS Examines DHS Programs Targeting Criminal Aliens

ICE officerThe Congressional Research Services (CRS) turns its attention to programs targeting criminal aliens. Since 1986 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its predecessor agency have made the identification and deportation of serious criminal aliens a priority. Despite the significant growth in programs targeting criminal aliens since 2005, enumerating the criminal population (defined as “all noncitizens ever convicted of a crime”) is difficult due to poor data quality and collection. “CRS 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”.

DHS currently operates four programs geared toward targeting criminal aliens: the Criminal Alien Program (CAP), Secure Communities, the § 287(g) program, and the National Fugitive Operations Program (NFOP). The report describes how each of the programs works and identifies common features and key differences among them.

While most lawmakers agree on the overarching goal of these programs to identify and remove serious criminal aliens, the programs have generated controversy. “Some lawmakers and advocacy groups have raised concerns that Secure Communities and the § 287(g) program have not been narrowly targeted at serious criminal offenders and that the programs may have adverse impacts on police-community relations, may result in racial profiling, and may result in the detention of people who have not been convicted of criminal offenses and may not be subject to removal.”

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