Criminal Aliens:

INS' Detention and Deportation Activities in the New York City Area

GGD-87-19BR: Published: Dec 3, 1986. Publicly Released: Jan 15, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO obtained information about the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) activities in: (1) apprehending and deporting criminal aliens in the New York City area; and (2) preventing them from reentering the United States.

GAO found that: (1) security at the INS service processing center (SPC) was inadequate; (2) although INS intended SPC to house a noncriminal population, it housed an increasing proportion of aliens with criminal backgrounds; (3) although INS expected to house the average detainee for 7 days, it housed many for more than 6 months; (4) SPC design and operational deficiencies detracted from a safe, secure, and orderly environment, making it difficult for INS to prevent escapes and control disruptive behavior; and (5) the SPC detention area stored firearms and ammunition in violation of INS and Bureau of Prisons (BOP) standards. Although the INS New York District Office (NYDO) has begun to hold hearings in state prisons, it has not yet: (1) established the alien status and deportability of all prisoner-aliens before they become eligible for parole; and (2) selected only appropriate criminal aliens for the expedited deportation process.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: INS action was partially responsive to this recommendation. INS reported removing all nonessential firearms from the facility, but maintains that operating conditions require the retention of some firearms, to be kept in locked safes.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to have NYDO follow BOP standards and not store any firearms and ammunition at SPC.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, the Justice Department stated that NYDO has: (1) given the identification of criminal aliens in prison the highest investigative priority; (2) made arrangements with New York City officials to obtain in a more timely manner certified conviction records needed to determine criminal alien deportability; and (3) begun holding deportation hearings.

    Recommendation: The Attorney General should direct the Commissioner, INS, to have NYDO ensure that it promptly investigates all foreign-born prisoners to determine their alien status and deportability, and selects appropriate alien prisoners for expedited deportation.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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