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2008 January 15 Tuesday
US Government Expands Criminal Immigrant Deportation Program

The New York Times reports that the Bush Administration is massively scaling up (finally) the deportation of criminal immigrants.

Federal authorities expect to identify and deport more than 200,000 immigrants this year who are convicted criminals serving time in prisons and jails across the country, the countryís top federal immigration enforcement official said Monday.

Imagine how much lower the crime rate would be today if illegal immigrants had been kept out and all legal immigrants turned criminals had been deported starting 10 years ago.

The effort to speed the deportation of foreign-born criminals is part of a campaign by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to help federal and state prisons reduce the costs of housing immigrants, the official, Julie L. Myers, assistant secretary of homeland security and head of the agency, said in an interview.

It is a measure of the failure of our elites that in 2006 only 64,000 immigrants were identified behind bars. If the government can identify 200,000 in 2008 surely it could have done so in 2006.

In 2007, Ms. Myers said, the agency, known as ICE, brought formal immigration charges against 164,000 immigrants who are behind bars nationwide for crimes committed in this country. Many of those immigrants are still in the United States and are also slated for deportation this year, she said. By comparison, in 2006, the agency identified 64,000 immigrants behind bars, most of whom were deported.

This demonstrates the value of complaining loudly to the US Congress which has appropriated $200 million to deport criminal immigrants in 2008. They hear us. So stay mad about immigration and make your views known.

But I am puzzled by these numbers. What fraction of all immigrants behind bars are there for less than a year? There'd have to be a pretty high turnover to reconcile the report above with something Edwin Rubenstein observed a couple of weeks ago: Hispanics make up about 300 thousand of those behind bars.

But this begs the question ofHispanic criminality per se. Itís clear, based on national incarceration data [William J. Sabol, Heather Couture, and Paige M. Harrison, "Prisoners in 2006," Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin, December 2007. Appendix tables 7 and 8. PDF], that Hispanics are far more likely to be in prison than non-Hispanic whites.

In 2004 (latest available data) there were 290,500 Hispanic males in state or federal correctional facilities. Thatís an incarceration rate of 1,281 per 100,000 population.

The puzzle becomes even greater when we consider Steve Sailer's observation that the far higher crime rate of native born HIspanics should mean that few of the Hispanics in prison are immigrants.

Why is it a good thing that the next generation of American-born Hispanics has so much higher crime rates than their dads? Linda Chavez trumpeted a study implying that American-born Latinos are eight times more likely to be criminals than Latino immigrants. Arenít the problems posed by the first generation of immigrants supposed to diminish in the second and third generations, not increase? Overall, the Hispanic imprisonment rate is 2.9 times the white rate.

So how to reconcile all these numbers? The US government and state governments do not do a good job of tracking Hispanic criminal behavior separate from whites. You can see this in the FBI Uniform Crime Reports which fail (at least last I checked) to even report Hispanic crime as a category separate from white crime. This is done to make Hispanics look better and whites look worse.

Has the US government found many more immigrant criminals now that it has started trying to identify them? Or is the turnover rate of prisoners serving short terms so high that 200,000 can be identified from far larger pool of short term servers?

Update: Also see Audacious Epigone on the immigrant crime numbers. My own guess: The number of crimes committed by immigrants is underestimated due to the reluctance of the US government to track Hispanic crime and immigrant crime. The pressure on the government to track down and deport illegal aliens and immigrant criminals has turned up a lot more immigrant criminals than previously published estimates would cause one to expect.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2008 January 15 07:46 PM  Immigration Crime

Robert Hume said at January 15, 2008 9:04 PM:

Just as you say. How can we understand Hispanic crime rates if the Federal government lumps them with non-Hispanic whites? Can we trust any statistics we see? I'd like to be enlightened ... seriously. But just as I noted above, as Lewontin believed, liberals don't have to give us true facts. These are political issues, not sociological/scientific issues, and liberals can lie with perfect lack of guilt.

Audacious Epigone said at January 16, 2008 11:17 AM:

The average time served for a prison sentence handed out at the state level is just under three years, and it's even longer than that at the federal level. It's unusual for someone held in a state or federal prison to serve less than one year behind bars. So I don't see how sentences of less than one year could be accounting for the huge disparity unless the bulk of the deportation orders are for those who are being held in local jails, where sentences are usually for less than one year.

It doesn't seem to add up. The study by Ruben Rumbaut that Steve Sailer referred to (via Linda Chavez) doesn't give absolute numbers of prisoners broken down by ethnicity and nationality, but it does give percentages. Extrapolating from that, the study estimates that there were fewer than 70,000 foreign-born males between the ages of 18-39 in state or federal prisons in 2000. Males between the ages of 18-39 comprise around 70% of the prison population, so we can probably assume that the total population of incarcerated foreign-born under Rumbaut's methodology comes to 100,000.

ICE is going after criminal immigrants at all levels. Local jails hold one-third of the nation's total incarcerated population, but Rubenstein's figure of 290,050 from the Department of Justice report only applies to state and federal facilities. If we assume that at the local level the demographics are similar to what is seen at the state and federal levels, somewhere in the area of 130,000 of those slated to be deported are being held at the state or federal level. This is nearly twice the total number of foreigners that Rumbaut estimated were being held in all jails across the country. That difference would have had to come in the course of only six years.

Two-thirds of the US foreign-born population is from Latin America. As Rumbaut's report shows, foreign-born Hispanics are more likely to be incarcerated than are European or Asian immigrants. So it'd be pretty safe to assume that of those 130,000, around 100,000 are Hispanic, yielding an estimate that about one-in-three Hispanic prisoners in the US are foreign-born. Yet Rumbaut's total incarceration figure for not only the Hispanic foreign-born but other non-native prisoners and which includes local jails, totals about that amount.

At least one of the following must be true:

1) Rumbaut's study was faulty.
2) Myers' numbers are wrong.
3) There was a significant increase in the size (and rate) of the foreign-born prison population between 2000 and 2006.
4) Local jails hold a greater number of immigrants than do state and federal prisons, and most of those slated for deporation are currently being held at the local level.

Local sentences vary by location, but the average length of a felony sentence to be served in a local jail was just over six months in 2000. Of those convicted of felonies in state courts, 41% of those sentenced to jail time served it in a local jail.

For Rumbaut's estimates and Myers' numbers to compute (ignoring the six year time gap for simplicity), most of the deportation orders--at least 100,000 or so of the 200,000--would need to not only be coming from the local level, but also be for those who have been given sentences of less than one year. Why? Because Rumbaut's numbers are pulled from a specific point in time, when the Public Use Microsample (PUMS) for Census 2000 was performed. If 100,000 or so foreigners had been in jail sometime during the year but were not incarcerated when the survey was carried out, both Rumbaut and Myers would theoretically be correct.

Since there are more felons being held in state prisons than in local jails, the majority of those 100,000 or so being slated to be deported from local jails (and quite likely a majority of all those being slated for deportation, since I'm assuming that ICE is going to get every foreign-born felon held at the state and getting the non-felony number by plugging in what's left over) would have to be serving time for non-felonious crimes (DUI, drug possession, etc).

On its face, this seems highly unlikely. Myers could probably clear up the confusion if she were queried on what percentages of these 200,000 people are currently being held in federal, state, and local facilities, but if I had to put money on it, I'd wager that either Rumbaut's estimate is too low or Myers' is too high. I'm not sure why ICE, which hasn't exactly reveled in the idea of having to step up deportations, would overstate the number of foreign criminals in need of removal. I can imagine why others might, though, but am not able to prove they're wrong, either.

Parenthetically, Rumbaut shows that the longer immigrants have been in the country, the more likely they are to be behind bars (see table 3). The putative rate of incarceration triples for foreigners who've been in the US for more than 15 years as compared to those who've been here for less than five years. This meshes generally with Steve's point that immigrants, who are disproportionately poor themselves, are assimilating to the cultural norms of America's native poor.

But it also stems from the fact that a 30 year-old who arrived stateside yesterday has had a lot less time to get himself thrown in a US jail than have natives who've lived here their entire lives. Yet as soon as he enters the US, he's 'counted' among the non-criminal foreign-born population. And if he has a criminal past at home that isn't known in the US, he's likely to spend less time in jail (and therefore less likely to be counted among the incarcerated at any given time) when he does commit a crime than would a native with a record who committed the same crime.

JSBolton said at January 16, 2008 11:24 PM:

What about the effect of 12+ years of deporting far outside the borders, on the order of 50,000 foreign criminals per year, from incarceration? This helps reduce immigrant crime rates, and they don't accumulate in the prisons, since they're less likely to hit a 'three strikes' threshold. Deportation is actually a favorable outcome for many of them, even though they don't realize it, but you'd think their advocates could see that getting deported after a one or two year sentence, is hugely better than having a ten year sentence from a third offense that tripped the threshold.
The missing six hundred thousand foreign-born prisoners that one would expect based on group crime rates are overseas and running loose, who otherwise would be here serving ten-year sentences, one might hypothesize.

Audacious Epigone said at January 22, 2008 11:22 AM:

One example of that reluctance can be seen in the way hate crimes are tracked. "Hispanic" is a victim category, but it is not a perpetrator category! So most Hispanics who commit designated 'hate' crimes are counted as "white".

ronb said at March 25, 2011 8:03 AM:

leticia olalia morales of 15501 pasadena ave #8 tustin ca 92780 submitted fake documents and paid 5000.00 dollars to obtain a US tourist visa. she is now applying for citizenship

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