NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 9, 2007

Illegal immigrants who were caught but released in the United States may have been re-arrested as many as six times, Justice Department data released Monday indicates.

The findings by Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine are based on a sampling of 100 illegal immigrants arrested by local and state authorities in 2004, the latest complete data available.

  • They show that 73 of the 100 immigrants were arrested, collectively, 429 times -- ranging from traffic tickets to weapons and drug charges.
  • Fine's office said its audit could not conclude precisely how many of the 262,105 illegal immigrants charged with criminal histories that year had been re-arrested, but if this data is indicative of the full population, the rate at which released criminal aliens are re-arrested is extremely high.

The audit was required by Congress in 2005, and parts of it were redacted because of security reasons.  It looked at how local and state authorities that receive Justice Department funding to help catch and detain illegal immigrants are working with the Homeland Security Department.

It also examined the arrest rates of immigrants who were released -- usually because of insufficient jail space -- before they could be turned over to Homeland Security's bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

  • In all, 752 cities, counties and states participating in the program received $287 million in 2005, the audit noted.
  • Five states -- California, New York, Texas, Florida and Arizona -- received the bulk of the money, together pulling in more than $184 million.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff four months ago declared an end to the "catch and release'' practice that for years helped many illegal immigrants stay in the United States unhindered.

Source: Lara Jakes Jordan, "Some Immigrants Are Re-Arrested 6 Times," Associated Press/Minneapolis Star Tribune, January 8, 2006; and Cooperation of Scaap Recipients in the Removal of Criminal Aliens From the United States," U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General Audit Division, Audit Report 07-07, January 2007.

For Justice Department audit:


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