Immigration Control:

Immigration Policies Affect INS Detention Efforts

GGD-92-85: Published: Jun 25, 1992. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) policies and procedures on alien detention.

GAO found that: (1) about 489,000 aliens were subject to detention between 1988 and 1990, and INS expansion of detention space will not alleviate the shortage of detention space; (2) limited detention space, laws, and alien nationality affect INS detention priorities, although selective detention could lead to unequal treatment; (3) INS institutional hearing and preflight inspection programs can mitigate some of the demand for detention space; (4) the 1990 average detention period per alien was 23 days, giving INS a 99,000-aliens-per-year capacity; (5) INS has released criminal aliens or failed to pursue illegal aliens due to lack of detention space; (6) INS has successfully attempted to implement a national priority system to determine which aliens most require detention; and (7) policy reexamination and greater funds are needed to control the number of aliens being detained.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The House and Senate are expected to address this issue in their deliberations over the President's immigration initiatives. Border Control is one of INS' fiscal year 1995 initiatives. Through the appropriation process, including funds from the crime control bill, Congress has allocated additional resources to the Border Patrol.

    Matter: Congress may wish to address border security and deportation issues in the course of future deliberations on immigration policy, specifically: How secure do we want our borders to be? How aggressive should we be in expelling deportable aliens? How much additional funding are we willing to invest in these efforts?

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: INS has initiated programs in Florence, AZ, New York, and South Texas to expand pro bono representation for detained aliens.

    Recommendation: Because of the low representation rate for detained aliens, the Attorney General should direct INS and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to determine the reasons aliens are not exercising their right to obtain representation and take appropriate action on any problems identified.

    Agency Affected: Department of Justice


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