NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Immigration Service Fails To Cope With Illegal Alien Criminals

February 22, 1999

It is not known how many convicted illegal aliens currently run free, but it is generally believed their numbers and the threat they pose is increasing as the Immigration and Naturalization Service's ability to deal with them deteriorates.

  • INS agents rooted out and deported 55,211 thieves, robbers, rapists, murderers, drug dealers and arsonists last year.
  • But if history is any guide, many of them will join the roughly 250,000 illegals who sneak back into the U.S. each year to mix with the estimated 5 million illegals already here.
  • Experts report that illegals are increasingly settling into small, rural towns.
  • After a storm of public criticism, the INS was recently forced to back down on plans to release some 1,600 criminal aliens from crowded detention centers.

The INS is a lightning rod for criticism. Rep. Harold Rogers (R- Ky.) has called it "an agency that is shot through from top to bottom with ineptness." He accuses it of losing files, providing immigrants with misinformation, allowing immigrants to enter the country illegally using false documentation, and failing to shorten interminable waits for asylum, naturalization and the "green cards" that let legal immigrants live and work in the U.S.

Some analysts think the agency's problems stem from having to act as both social agency and policeman. Senior House and Senate Republicans introduced legislation in the last session of Congress to disband the agency and divide its duties between the Justice, State and Labor departments. Similar legislation is expected to be reintroduced soon.

Source: August Gribben, "INS Struggles to Cope with Criminal Aliens," Washington Times, February 22, 1999.


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