"Criminal Alien Program" Capturing Mostly Non-Criminals

The New York Times reports on a new study produced for the Department of Homeland Security on the results of a couple of programs designed to help speed the deportation of serious criminals and finds that it doesn't seem to be working as intended. Excerpts:

The report shows that 60 percent of the 380,000 people detained during the 2009 fiscal year had been turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement by state and local police, mostly through the Criminal Alien Program, which identifies possible immigration violators in local jails. Others were sent by local law enforcement officers deputized to enforce federal immigration law through a program known as 287(g).

Both programs have the stated goal of improving safety through federal-local partnerships that single out serious criminal offenders for deportation. But well over half the immigrants taken into custody under the programs had no criminal convictions, the figures show.

According to the report, 57 percent of the 178,605 people sent through the Criminal Alien Program in the 2009 fiscal year had no criminal convictions, an increase since 2008, when noncriminals were 53 percent of the 149,067 detainees sent through the program.

An even higher proportion of noncriminals were sent through the 287(g) program - 65 percent of 44,692 in 2009, down from 72 percent of 37,776 in 2008.

Yes, yes, they are all by definition criminals. But they shouldn't be. And I'm sure many will assume that if an alien gets in the hands of the cops, they must be guilty of something, whether or not they are ever convicted. But that's not the way things work in the U.S.A. These programs are not a useful application of government money and effort.

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  • GILMORE||

    this is lonewacko chum

  • Christ on a Cracker||

    These programs are not a useful application of government money and effort.

    So the only solution is to increase the program's funding.

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    Obviously, the concept of ProperPublicPolicy is foreign to Brian Doherty. The FreeFlowOfPeople or similar that Doherty and the rest of Reason wants would have huge negative impacts on the liberty of U.S. citizens, taking some of their power away and giving it to the MexicanGovernment. The blind eye that Doherty wants us to turn to illegal activity would lead ToMoreCorruption, taking even more liberty away from U.S. citizens. It's difficult to have liberty when different rules apply to different people. Obviously, Doherty and the rest of Reason don't have the ability to figure that out.

    I have literally thousands of posts about this issue at my site, and four ways to search my archives in the right sidebar. For instance, start entering the name of a politician who's in the news now in the tag search. Most likely I've been covering them for years.

  • ||

    Is catching other illegal immigrants, who may or may not have committed OTHER crimes, really a flaw in the program? I mean, they should be deported regardless of what they may or may not have done.

  • ||

    No they shouldn't.

  • Abdul||

    Brian's just testing out the new Lonewacko filter to see if it works.

  • ||

    Obviously failed.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Cue John to tell us how it's good to take Mexicans out of the low-end labor pool so good, god-fearin' whites can get artificial raises in their wages.

  • Jimbo||

    I'm married to a woman from a different country who I met while at college. I know firsthand how royally screwed up the INS is (now ICE).

    I think this is one of those issues where the sensible middle gets completely ignored because the extremes push two horrible choices.

    How about this:

    Reform the immigration laws. We should allow a huge amount of guest workers from Mexico to come to our country. The guest worker program should be easy to enroll in. Most of the illegals today are important contributors to our economy. Let's give them an easy way to legally work in our country.

    Enforce immigration laws. If you are illegal you get shipped home pronto. This includes putting the wood to any employers who still hire illegals after the guest worker program is in place.

    The guest workers should have to pay taxes and pay for their kids to go to our schools. They should also be required to have health insurance. Their worker card should be revoked if they become a burden on US citizens.

    Basically, let's let people in legally, but make them behave themselves.

  • Mango Punch||

  • 24AheadDotCom||

    Your title isn't accurate. Rather than spouting the ACLU line just because some set of people not including yourself profit from illegal activity, consider actually telling the truth.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Why hasn't anybody proposed a visa cascade as the solution to the real estate bust? They could take all existing inventory off the market -- even in the lowest-demand parts of the country -- by sending two million blank H1Bs to China and India, with post-it arrows indicating where to write your name.

  • ||

    It was proposed at Marginal Revolution almost a year ago.

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Hey yeah - my plan to becoming a citizen: walk into an immigration office and say "I want to become a citizen".

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Yes, yes, they are all by definition criminals. But they shouldn't be.

    Yes, they should.

    Sounds like this program is working just peachy to me!

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Reform the immigration laws. We should allow a huge amount of guest workers from Mexico to come to our country. The guest worker program should be easy to enroll in. Most of the illegals today are important contributors to our economy. Let's give them an easy way to legally work in our country.

    Small problem there - as long as you have birth-right citizenship, there's no such thing as a "guest worker" and even countries that don't have birth-right citizenship have learned that lesson the hard way. See Europe.

  • LarryA||

    Small problem there - as long as you have birth-right citizenship, there's no such thing as a "guest worker"

    Actually, there is. Most guest workers don’t want to immigrate. They want to come over, work whatever season there is for their profession, then return home. The main reason most of them give for bringing family, and for staying, is the difficulty in getting smuggled across the border. Give them the option of commuting back and forth, and most of their families will stay home.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    I'd like to know what support you have for that assertion. I can show you plenty of support for mine - namely, every country that's ever implemented a "guest worker" program.

  • Jimbo||

    Are you saying that there is no middle ground? That the only sensible outcome is to shut down the border by force and crack down on illegals in this country?

    Is it intolerable to acknowledge that there will be workers from Mexico or other countries who come here to find work?

    Can't there be a discussion about whether it might be better to bring those workers here in a way that allows them to be legal but with less rights than a full citizen?

  • The Angry Optimist||

    Small problem there - as long as you have birth-right citizenship, there's no such thing as a "guest worker"

    Why is that a necessary outcome?

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    I didn't say it was a necessary outcome - but perhaps you could provide me with an example of where the outcome has been anything else. As I said, see Europe.

  • Zeb||

    My best response to this is that there are already lots of mexican unofficial guest workers here and their offspring already have birth right citizenship. Allowing more guest workers in legally will not make this situation any worse (assuming that it is bad now) and will probably create mechanisms that will help to make it better. Documented workers are a lot easier to keep track of and send home if that should become necessary.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    My best response to this is that there are already lots of mexican unofficial guest workers here and their offspring already have birth right citizenship. Allowing more guest workers in legally will not make this situation any worse

    Did you actually read what you wrote before you hit the submit button?

  • ||

    So, because you think our laws should be different, a program, intended to enforce the law is broken? Riiight...that makes sense.

    If the immigration system is not functioning as we think it should, or even with any level of efficiency or fairness, we need to revamp that system, not ignore the rules.

  • ||

    Which is why Harriet Tubman should have been strung up, that lawbreaker!

  • ||

    Nice Strawman holding a Red Herring.

  • ||

    Glad you liked it. I just rankle at the idea that an unjust law should, nevertheless, be followed. I maintain that "ignoring the rules" is downright noble in a situation like this.

  • ||

    Fair enough. More effective if you didn't conflate slavery (legal at the time of Tubman and wholly immoral always) with the regulation of legal immigration.

    Again, in the latter, whose rights are paramount, the current residents' or those wishing to immigrate?

  • ||

    Stopping black people from traveling north to escape slavery: legally required but nevertheless immoral in 1850.

    Stopping brown people from traveling north to find work: legally required but nevertheless immoral in 2009.

    The comparison is apt.

    Furthermore, your dilemma is a false one; there is no need to violate the rights of one group in order to uphold the rights of another.

  • Jimbo||

    Every time I hear people talk about immigration laws and how they should be enforced I know that is a person who has never had to deal with the INS.

    I'd love for Congress to pass a law saying that every citizen needed to stop by the local INS office and get a citizenship chit. The chit would be stupidly simple. Maybe a yellow sticky note with "INS" written on it.

    I guarantee that within a week all the border control activists would be stringing up the INS folks and apologizing to the illegals.

    I married a woman from another country who was here legally and it was one of the most maddening processes I have ever gone through. At one point, I had to buy a waiver for some law I had broken which really urinated me off because the law I broke was a direct result of following their explicit instructions.

    Reform the INS (or better yet abolish it) and I will listen to your talk about enforcing laws.

  • Jose||

    Can't bring people to the jobs? Send the jobs to the people. See Silicon Valley.

  • ||

    How about we forget the stupid quota's, eliminate birth-right citizenship for illegal aliens, and increase the processing capacity for legal immigration? Make gaining citizenship easier, and much quicker.

    Of course, as we move more towards an entitlement rich society, I think we should tighten immigration requirements, not loosen them. As it becomes more and more possible to live off your fellow citizens via government dole, each additional person pushes us closer to collapse.

  • Zeb||

    "each additional person pushes us closer to collapse. "

    Unless they contribute more than they take from the system. Which, in a properly set up guest worker system would be more often than not.

  • ||

    How about we forget the stupid quota's, eliminate birth-right citizenship for illegal aliens, and increase the processing capacity for legal immigration? Make gaining citizenship easier, and much quicker.

    Sign me up.

  • The Goatherd and the Wild Goat||

    A GOATHERD, driving his flock from their pasture at eventide, found some Wild Goats mingled among them, and shut them up together with his own for the night. The next day it snowed very hard, so that he could not take the herd to their usual feeding places, but was obliged to keep them in the fold. He gave his own goats just sufficient food to keep them alive, but fed the strangers more abundantly in the hope of enticing them to stay with him and of making them his own. When the thaw set in, he led them all out to feed, and the Wild Goats scampered away as fast as they could to the mountains. The Goatherd scolded them for their ingratitude in leaving him, when during the storm he had taken more care of them than of his own herd. One of them, turning about, said to him: "That is the very reason why we are so cautious; for if you yesterday treated us better than the Goats you have had so long, it is plain also that if others came after us, you would in the same manner prefer them to ourselves." Old friends cannot with impunity be sacrificed for new ones.

  • Joel||

    Was the goatherd an illegal alien, or was it the goats? Because I've missed your point.

  • ||

    A key point in this report:


    ...380,000 people detained during the 2009 fiscal year had been turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement by state and local police, mostly through the Criminal Alien Program, which identifies possible immigration violators in local jails.

    (Emphasis added). So these were not random illegal aliens walking down the street; they were illegal aliens who were already in jail for some other reason, meaning that they had been arrested and booked for committing some kind of crime.

    This reduces the emotional impact of the claim that "well over half the immigrants taken into custody under the programs had no criminal convictions". Yes, naturally, someone booked into jail doesn't have a criminal conviction - yet. Faced with a choice of going through a criminal trial and getting a criminal conviction, or just getting deported, it is not surprising that many illegals choose the latter option.

    I am myself a legal immigrant and naturalized citizen. I obeyed the law, painful though it was and was especially careful to avoid breaking even the least criminal law, precisely because it would make me liable to be deported. The United States is a sovereign nation and has the right to control its borders, and to decide how many and who should be able to enter the nation. At the minimum, we should be able to agree that those aliens who land up in jail are not good candidates for immigration.

  • ||

    The United States is a sovereign nation and has the right to control its borders, and to decide how many and who should be able to enter the nation.

    The United States is a sovereign nation and has the power to control its borders.

    But when it uses that power to abrogate the actual rights of actual individuals -- for instance, by prohibiting the free migration of entire classes of individuals without individually determined cause -- it is in fact acting illegitimately.

  • .||

    But when it uses that power to abrogate the actual rights of actual individuals -- for instance, by prohibiting the free migration of entire classes of individuals without individually determined cause -- it is in fact acting illegitimately.

    That will be news to every nation on earth.

  • ||

    So will the rest of Jefferson's words...

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
  • From Beyond the Grave||

    When we are considering the advantages that may result from an easy mode of naturalization, we ought also to consider the cautions necessary to guard against abuse. It is no doubt very desirable that we should hold out as many inducements as possible for the worthy part of mankind to come and settle amongst us, and throw their fortunes into a common lot with ours. But why is this desirable? Not merely to swell the catalogue of people. No, sir, it is to increase the wealth and strength of the community; and those who acquire the rights of citizenship, without adding to the strength or wealth of the community are not the people we are in want of.

    James Madison on Rule of Naturalization, 1st Congress, Feb. 3, 1790.

  • ||

    Naturalization is not migration.

    Naturalization is not residency.

    The US is fully within its legitimate authority to define citizenship and the rules of naturalization. Migration and residency, however, are inalienable natural rights.

  • ||

    Individuals have a right to migrate away from a place in search of freedom and a livelihood.

    They don't have a right to freely migrate into another nation in violation of its laws.

  • Zeb||

    " Individuals have a right to migrate away from a place in search of freedom and a livelihood."

    Does that not imply a right to migrate to another place?

  • ||

    Which supercedes the prperty rights of the residents of the other place? They may have a right to migrate, but may not have the right to settle or "squat".

  • ||

    "They" being the migrants. And don't even bother tagging me "Teh Racist". :-)

  • ||

    Not a problem, so long as they can exercise their rights to "buy" or "rent".

  • ||

    And if the indigenous do not wish to sell, rent or share under their right to private property and the migrants are forced to migrate further? Is there a moral imperative breached here?

    In other words, is there a right to xenophobia? just food for thought.

  • ||

    So long as some indigenous don't force other indigenous to comply with their own xenophobia, there are no rights being violated in the scenario you present.

  • ||

    And if other indigenous, by way of similar culture,limited resources in the area, or the populations are just plain hostile, choose to also not to allow migrants?

    For the sake of argument, let us assume the migrants are unable to find a place to settle.

    Has there been a breach of right to settle?

  • ||

    Accepting the assumption for the sake of argument, there has not been a breach of any rights.

    I would say there is no right to "settle" as the term is commonly understood. Depending on how it is defined, there may be a right to homestead. But there is no right to settle already occupied lands.

  • ||

    As defined by google online:

    Main Entry: 1home·stead
    Pronunciation: \ˈhōm-ˌsted, -stid\
    Function: noun
    Date: before 12th century
    1 a : the home and adjoining land occupied by a family b : an ancestral home c : house
    2 : a tract of land acquired from United States public lands by filing a record and living on and cultivating the tract

    So, using any of these, I don't see anything that would refute the right to migrate where one sees fit, as you assert (and I agree). However, since our country is occupied and most want some type of orderly and accountable immigration, I don't how border control is unreasonable. Occupants' rights appear to trump the migrants' rights here.

  • ||

    So, it looks like one can migrate only to unoccupied/unowned lands though.

    However, we arrive at the question: "Does one have to be a citizen to acquire land?"

    Given America's history, obviously not.

    And, would acquiring land entitle one to citizenship?

    Should citizenship/legal immigrant status be earned or bought?

  • ||

    So, it looks like one can migrate only to unoccupied/unowned lands though.

    Or one buys or rents lands from the current occupants.

    When you ask me to accept an assumption for the sake of argument, you shouldn't presume that the assumption is correct.

  • ||

    "don't see how"

    preview fail

  • ||

    Occupants' rights appear to trump the migrants' rights here.

    ...presuming the occupants are unanimous in their refusal to associate with the migrants.

    I would argue that there is no chance that no occupants are willing to sell to, lease to, employ, or otherwise associate with new migrants.

    "Occupants" don't get to make that decision. Individuals do.

  • ||

    Agreed about the unliklely chance that inividuals would not unanimously not buy, sell or trade with migrants.

    In the case of a counry with borders, must it be unanimous to wish to restrict migrant amounts, or just a majority? Or not at all and eliminate borders?

  • ||

    No need to eliminate borders.

    I hope you would agree that goods and services should trade freely across borders. That does not preclude the government from installing border security measures to check that weapons of mass destruction or the like aren't entering the country.

    Similarly, borders should be open to the free flow of people. That does not preclude the government from installing border security measures to check that terrorists or carriers of contagion or the like aren't entering the country.

  • ||

    Funny how some libertarians forget about property rights when it comes to immigration.

    The United States is the collective property of its citizens. The owners of that property have as much right to keep whomever they want off that property, for whatever reason or no reason at all. Mexicans have no more right to wander into Texas than I have to wander onto your front lawn.

  • ||

    Funny how some libertarians forget about property rights when it comes to immigration.

    Oddly enough, some libertarians honor property rights very strongly. You have the right to house whomever you want on and with your property. You have the right to employ whomever you want on and with your property. You have the right to transport whomever you want on and with your property. All that is regardless of where in the world the whomever was born.

    The United States is the collective property of its citizens.

    No it isn't.

  • ||

    Oddly enough, some libertarians honor property rights very strongly. You have the right to house whomever you want on and with your property. You have the right to employ whomever you want on and with your property. You have the right to transport whomever you want on and with your property. All that is regardless of where in the world the whomever was born.

    But you've got to take them over public roads to get there.

    And if public land isn't the collective property of U.S. citizens, to whom do our public lands belong? The world? The only people with the power to exercise control over America's public lands are American citizens, through their votes.

    The idea that public land is the collective property of all American citizens is so non-controversial and sane that you would accept it in a second if it didn't lead to a result that you didn't like.

  • ||

    I have no problem with public land being the collective property of the American citizenry.

    I have a problem with the American citizenry appropriating all commons and rights of way in the dominion it claims sovereignty over as public property. It isn't.

    So if the US wants to exclude foreigners from air force bases or BLM wilderness, it is free to do so. If it wants to prohibit you from traveling on a common law right of way, however, it has overstepped its legitimate authority.

  • ||

    And even moreso if it wants to keep foreigners off my property!

  • ||

    Worked perfectly for the Roman Empire.

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