Federal Government Needs to Reassess Immigration Enforcement Priorities

Communications Associate

December 21, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice issued a report on people in federal prisons who are unlawfully present in the United States.

This release follows guidelines from the Trump administration’s executive order on interior enforcement, which called for an increase in enforcement activities while removing priorities for enforcement that target dangerous criminals.

The percentage of undocumented immigrants serving federal prison sentences is high because immigration violations are classified as federal crimes, resulting in nonviolent immigration offenders increasingly serving time in federal prison.

One effect: The U.S. now spends more on immigration enforcement than on all other federal law enforcement agencies combined.

“Immigration enforcement should be focusing on violent, serious federal crime and going after drug dealers, not on people who pose no threat to the wider community,” said Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum. “The federal government is spending tens of millions of your taxpayer dollars holding people who have committed nonviolent immigration offenses. A better deal for the American taxpayer is legislation that requires undocumented immigrants who are not a threat to society to register for legal status and contribute fully.”