Criminal Aliens: INS' Efforts To Identify and Remove Imprisoned Aliens Need To Be Improved

T-GGD-97-154 Published: Jul 15, 1997. Publicly Released: Jul 15, 1997.
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Highlights

GAO discussed the Institutional Hearing Program (IHP), focusing on: (1) the extent to which deportable criminal aliens were included in the IHP; (2) the extent to which the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) completed deportation hearings for deportable aliens during their time in prison or after their release; and (3) INS' efforts to enhance IHP.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security The Commissioner, INS, should establish a nationwide data system containing the universe of foreign-born inmates reported to INS by BOP and the state departments of corrections and use this system to track the IHP status of each inmate.
Closed – Not Implemented
This recommendation was implemented at the federal level, but not fully implemented at the state level. INS believed it would not be possible to integrate every state's system with INS's automated tracking system. Since INS was abolished in March 2003, there has been more emphasis placed on national security than criminal alien issues. There do not appear to be plans to implement this recommendation.
Immigration and Naturalization Service The Commissioner, INS, should give priority to aliens serving time for aggravated felonies by establishing controls to ensure that these aliens are identified from among the universe of foreign-born inmates provided by BOP and the states, are placed into deportation proceedings while in prison, and are taken into custody upon their release.
Closed – Not Implemented
INS's position is that such a control system is not needed for aggravated felons because INS should be screening all foreign-born inmates as they enter the prison system. Thus, INS does not plan to implement a system to identify aggravated felons separate from other foreign-born inmates.
Immigration and Naturalization Service The Commissioner, INS, should: (1) develop a workload analysis model to identify the IHP resources needed in any period to achieve overall program goals and the portion of those goals that would be achievable with alternative levels of resources; and (2) use the model to support its IHP funding and staffing requests. Such a model should consider several factors, including the number of foreign-born inmates, number of prisons that must be visited, number and types of IHP staff, length of time to process cases, and travel time and costs.
Closed – Implemented
INS completed a workload analysis model in 1998, and used it for the formation of fiscal year 2002 budget request for IHP positions.
Directorate of Border and Transportation Security The Commissioner, INS, should identify the causes of immigration agent attrition and take steps to ensure that staffing is adequate to achieve IHP program goals.
Closed – Not Implemented
This recommendation is no longer applicable because INS was abolished in March 2003, the IRP program was moved to a new organizational entity, and the position of immigration agent is no longer current.
Immigration and Naturalization Service The Commissioner, INS, should establish and effectively communicate a clear policy on the role of special agents in the IHP and, using a workload analysis model, set IHP goals for district directors with IHP responsibilities.
Closed – Implemented
INS communicated the role of special agents assigned to criminal alien removal work in an October 1997 memo to field managers. With respect to establish IHP goals for district directors, INS has stated that it does not intend to set goals at the district level.
Immigration and Naturalization Service If it appears that IHP goals will not be met, INS should document any actions taken to correct the problem.
Closed – Implemented
INS exceeded its fiscal year 1999 removal goal, and was on target to exceed its fiscal year 2000 removal goal as well.

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