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94 percent of illegal immigrants incarcerated in US were ‘unlawfully present’ says DHS, DOJ

U.S. Border Patrol agents arrest illegal aliens attempting to enter the United States after crossing the Rio Grande River in McAllen, Texas on November 15, 2018. (Ozzy Trevino/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
October 24, 2020

Illegal immigrants who unlawfully crossed into the U.S. or overstayed their visas make up roughly 94 percent of foreign nationals detained in United States federal prisons, new data shows.

Over 51,000 noncitizens were incarcerated in federal prison by the end of Fiscal Year 2019, the Justice Department’s annual Alien Incarceration Report stated. Seventy percent of the almost 27,500 nationals in Bureau of Prisons (BOP) custody and 39 percent of the 23,580 in U.S. Marshals Service custody were convicted for crimes not related to their immigration status.

Over half of the foreign nationals in federal prison during FY2019 were deported before they were incarcerated. Roughly 3.5 percent were legal immigrants waiting for adjudication or being shielded from deportation.

The average cost per prisoner, paid for by American taxpayers, was $88.19 per day in U.S. Marshals Service facilities alone.

“Because of the greater number of prisoners received into USMS custody … total detention housing costs increased by approximately 1.9 percent … from $159 million to $162 million,” the report stated.

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In the first quarter of FY2019, Approximately 50 percent, or 14,481 suspected immigrants in BOP custody, committed drug trafficking or other drug-related offenses as their primary offense, including conspiracy to commit drug trafficking offenses and smuggling large amounts of drugs on the high seas.

Thirty-two percent, or 9,193, committed immigration offenses like immigrant smuggling and illegal reentry after deportation, as their primary offense.

Multiple cases were also detailed in the report, including the case of Fredis Valencia Palacios. Four years ago, the 30-year-old Colombian and co-conspirators arranged a human trafficking plan to smuggle illegal immigrants into the United States, transporting them across Colombia to the Panamanian border.

Palacios and his co-defendants were paid by three Colombian nationals to transport them from Colombia to Panama, as they journeyed to Miami, Florida. Palacios delivered the three Colombians to a boat captained by his co-conspirators. During the trip, Palacios and his co-conspirators held the victims at knife and gunpoint before throwing the male passengers overboard.

“The surviving male victim reported that he heard the co-defendants sexually assault the female victim before cutting her throat and murdering her,” the report stated. “The surviving victim also heard the co-defendants cut the other male victim’s throat, killing him. The survivor managed to escape by swimming and was subsequently rescued by the Colombian Navy.”

Nearly 1.2 million immigrants enter the United States on green cards legally each year. This amount does not include the hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who enter the United States annually.