GAO: $1.5B to jail unlawful immigrants
Jordy Yager|The Hill
The federal government is spending more than $1.5 billion each year to jail illegal immigrants throughout the country, according to a new report by the investigative arm of Congress.
The report, issued this week by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), found that over the past five fiscal years the number of incarcerated non-U.S. citizens in federal prisons has increased by 4,000, to about 55,000. In state prisons, the criminal alien population has increased by about 75,000 people, for a total of 296,000.
The federal government repays states some of the cost of incarcerating undocumented immigrants through the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.
Criminal aliens have consistently made up about 25 percent of the federal prison population since 2001, according to the study.
The study comes as the immigration debate heats up on Capitol Hill and the White House. President Obama ramped up efforts this week, hosting meetings with key business, faith and political officials on the issue. And Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.), the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s immigration task force, is trumpeting the need for immigration reform in speeches across the country.
Meanwhile, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) used the study to back his push for a fence and a wall that runs along the U.S.-Mexico border as a way to stop people from coming into the country illegally.
Nearly 70 percent of the criminal aliens in federal prisons, and 66 percent in state prisons, were born in Mexico, the report found. About five percent are from the Dominican Republic, and five percent from Colombia.