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Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Release Data on Incarcerated Aliens

Gerald Scroop

October 16, 2020

Today, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security released the Alien Incarceration Report for Fiscal Year 2019.  The data shows that 94 percent of confirmed aliens incarcerated in Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and United States Marshals Service (USMS) facilities were unlawfully present in the United States.  Additionally, the report found that nearly 70 percent of known or suspected aliens in BOP custody had been convicted of a non-immigration-related offense, and 39 percent of known or suspected aliens in USMS custody had committed a non-immigration-related offense.

In January 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order on Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, directing “the Secretary [of Homeland Security] and the Attorney General … to collect relevant data and provide quarterly reports on the following: (a) the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons; (b) the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated as Federal pretrial detainees under the supervision of the United States Marshals Service; and (c) the immigration status of all convicted aliens incarcerated in State prisons and local detention centers throughout the United States.”

At the end of FY 2019, a total of 51,074 known or suspected aliens were in Department of Justice custody, with 27,494 known or suspected aliens in BOP facilities and 23,580 known or suspected aliens in USMS facilities.  Of those 51,074 known or suspected aliens, 27,266 individuals (53.4 percent) had been confirmed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be aliens who had orders of removal or who had agreed to depart voluntarily.  18,308 individuals (35.8 percent) were still under investigation by ICE to determine alienage, 3,691 individuals (7.2 percent) were illegal aliens who were under adjudication, and 936 individuals (1.8 percent) were legal aliens who were under adjudication.  873 individuals (1.7 percent) were aliens who had been granted relief or protection from removal.

By the end of FY 2019, the USMS had directly expended $162 million to house the 23,580 known or suspected aliens remanded to their custody in state, local, and private facilities.  The average cost to house noncitizens in these facilities is $88.19 per prisoner, per day.

Information Regarding Immigration Status of Aliens Incarcerated Under the Supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons

At the end of FY 2019, a total of 27,494 known or suspected aliens were in BOP custody.  Of those individuals, approximately 72 percent had been confirmed to be illegal aliens.

Of the 27,494 known or suspected aliens in BOP custody, 27,125 had been convicted of an offense (369 inmates were in pretrial status).  Of those 27,125 individuals:

Information Regarding the Immigration Status of Aliens Incarcerated as Federal Pretrial Detainees

At the end of FY 2019, a total of 63,725 individuals were in USMS custody.  Of those 63,725 individuals, 23,580 individuals (37 percent) were known or suspected aliens.  Of those 23,580 individuals:

Of the 23,580 known or suspected aliens in USMS custody, 22,359 were being held for reasons other than being material witnesses.  Of those 22,359 individuals:

Immigration Status of All Convicted Aliens Incarcerated in State Prisons and Local Detention Centers Throughout the United States

The departments continue to progress towards establishing data collection of the immigration status of convicted aliens incarcerated in state prisons and local detention centers through the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics.

BJS annually collects aggregate numbers of noncitizens in state and federal prisons through the National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) program.  The most recent counts, released in April 2019, were from December 31, 2017.  According to Prisoners in 2017, data from 45 states shows that an estimated 69,300 non-U.S. citizens were held in public and private state prison facilities at year-end 2017.

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