Judicial Watch • Calif. Stops Jailing Illegal Alien Repeat Offenders

Calif. Stops Jailing Illegal Alien Repeat Offenders

Calif. Stops Jailing Illegal Alien Repeat Offenders

MARCH 03, 2009

A state that annually spends $970 million to incarcerate illegal immigrants has notified the federal government that it will stop its longtime and costly practice of locking up convicted aliens who reenter the country after being deported.

In a letter to the nation’s Homeland Security Secretary, the head of California’s Department of Corrections asks the federal government to finally step up to the plate and prosecute illegal immigrants—convicted of crimes in U.S. courts—who return to the country after deportation since it’s a federal crime. 

California spends an estimated $10 million a year to imprison such violators because federal authorities rarely do, even though the state regularly notifies them. Out of 12,000 illegal aliens released to federal officials for deportation in 2007—the latest available figures—about 1,600 returned to the U.S. and were jailed in state prisons because the government didn’t prosecute. 

Under federal law the repeat offenders could be sentenced to up to two decades in jail for reentering the country illegally. Instead, the state can only lock them up for ineffective short periods of several months for parole violations. California Corrections Secretary Matthew Cate pointed out this week that this system—re-incarcerating deported criminal aliens in state prisons for brief stints—has increased overcrowding and costs to state taxpayers without improving public safety. 

In his two-age letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Cate points out that California already takes a huge financial hit for the exorbitant cost of imprisoning 20,000 deportable aliens convicted of crimes. He ends by asking her to prosecute criminal aliens who continue to illegally reenter our country to commit crimes, pointing out the obvious; federal law provides larger penalties which are appropriate for these offenders who don’t seem deterred by short parole violation terms. 

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