Monday, March 15, 2010

Deportation Won't Pay the Bills in Texas

The population of foreign citizens in Texas prisons is at an all-time high. According to the Austin American-Statesman the idea of deporting some percentage of foreign offenders is gaining some traction among lawmakers. The Texas plan is to release nearly 11,400 foreign nationals by turning them over to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials for deportation.

"It could mean a lot of jobs, economic development, because the federal government will have to find a place to put them before they deport them," said state Senator Eddie Lucio. He said that Immigrations and Customs Enforcement would need additional holding facilities for the soon-to-be deported criminals and that federal money might be available to pay for them and the jobs they would create.

"This could be a win-win situation for Texas," Lucio told the American-Statesman, noting that South Texas might benefit from such a program since that's where many federal immigration detention centers are located.

My Take

Texas cannot not solve their financial woes by deporting foreign nationals. In fact, their plan to make money by transferring inmates to the federal system and then charging the feds for housing them is a pipe dream.

More importantly, the plan will make Texas a more dangerous place. An investigation by the Arizona Republic found that 16-percent of deported criminals re-enter the United States. In fiscal year 2008, 16 percent of the 317,696 immigrants arrested by agents in Tucson, were charged with felony counts of re-entering illegally, either because they had prior felony convictions in the U.S. or previously had been formally deported. That is approximately 50,000 offenders. That represents more people than are currently incarcerated in Arizona.

The government does not have the resources to prosecute all of those felony re-entry cases. According to the Arizona Republic, most of those illegal re-entries were simply just deported and deported again.

The flaw in Texas' plan becomes painfully obvious, but it sounds good around election time when a candidate wants to be tough on crime, immigration and "fiscally" responsible.

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