by Will Racke
There were a total of 183,058 prisoners in Bureau of Prisons (BOP) custody as of Dec. 31, 2017, according to the government’s quarterly assessment, which is mandated by President Donald Trump’s January 2017 executive order on immigration enforcement.
Of those, 38,132 — or 21 percent — were known or suspected aliens. Nearly two-thirds of that foreign-born prison population did not have lawful immigration status, the DOJ/DHS report stated.
There were another 19,688 known or suspected aliens held in pretrial detention by the U.S. Marshals Service, bringing the total number of alien prisoners in the federal system to 57,820. Of that total, 42,284 people had been confirmed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be aliens, while the other 15,536 were still under investigation to determine their country of origin.
The alien incarceration report shows the costs illegal immigration imposes on the U.S. criminal justice system, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement accompanying the release of the report.
“It is outrageous that tens of thousands of Americans are dying every year because of the drugs and violence brought over our borders illegally and that taxpayers have been forced, year after year, to pay millions of dollars to incarcerate tens of thousands of illegal aliens,” Sessions said.
Supporting Sessions’s claim, the alien incarceration report for the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 included figures on the cost of housing criminal aliens in the federal system. As of Dec. 31, 2017, the U.S. Marshals Service held about 16,233 aliens in a mix of state, local and private facilities, which cost nearly $1.5 million per day. The total cost of housing those aliens in the first quarter of FY2018 was $134 million, the report stated.
The report did not include cost estimates for aliens in BOP custody, but a 2016 BOP report found it costs an average of $88 per day to house a single federal inmate. Using that figure, the government was spending roughly $3.4 million to house alien inmates in federal prisons during the first three months of FY2018.
About 46 percent of the aliens in federal custody were doing time for drug smuggling or dealing, according to the report. Another 29 percent had been convicted of immigration-related crimes, such as such as illegal reentry after deportation or human trafficking, as their primary offense.
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