Index


Criminal Aliens: INS' Efforts to Remove Imprisoned Aliens Continue to
Need Improvement (Letter Report, 10/16/98, GAO/GGD-99-3).

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Immigration and
Naturalization Service's (INS) Institutional Hearing Program's (IHP)
performance during 1997, focusing on: (1) the extent to which deportable
criminal aliens were included in the IHP; (2) the extent to which INS
completed removal hearings for deportable aliens during their time in
prison or after their prison release; and (3) whether INS had acted on
recommendations that GAO made in its July 1997 testimony.

GAO noted that: (1) INS' performance has shown limited improvement since
1995; (2) in 1995, INS' database of deportable aliens did not have
records on about 34 percent of the released inmates included in GAO's
analysis who had been identified by the states and the Bureau of Prisons
(BOP) as foreign born; (3) about 32 percent of these were subsequently
determined by INS' Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC) to be
potentially deportable criminal aliens; (4) in 1997, INS had no records
on 36 percent of such aliens, 27 percent of whom were determined by LESC
to be potentially deportable criminal aliens; (5) although some of these
inmates were United States citizens and some were ordered removed
through means other than the IHP, a substantial number were aliens on
whom INS did not have records; (6) in 1995, about 33 percent of these
potentially deportable criminal aliens for whom INS did not have records
were aggravated felons at the time of the analysis, as determined by
LESC; (7) in GAO's analysis of 1997 data, 63 percent of the potentially
deportable criminal aliens for whom INS did not have records were
identified by LESC as being aggravated felons; (8) this is important
because federal law requires INS to initiate removal proceedings for
aggravated felons while they are incarcerated and, to the extent
possible, complete deportation proceedings for these felons before their
release from prison; (9) in 1995, INS did not complete the IHP before
prison release for 57 percent of the potentially deportable criminal
aliens for whom INS had records; as a result, INS incurred about $37
million in avoidable detention costs; (10) in 1997, INS did not complete
the IHP for about 50 percent of these aliens; the avoidable detention
costs were about $40 million; and (11) as of September 1998, INS had
made limited progress in implementing GAO's recommendations, as follows:
(a) INS had begun to establish an automated system for tracking
potentially deportable criminal aliens in BOP facilities, but it had not
determined whether it will be able to use this system to track
potentially deportable criminal aliens in state prison systems; (b) INS
had not taken specific actions to ensure that aggravated felons are
placed in removal proceedings while they are incarcerated and then taken
into custody upon their release from prison; (c) regarding resource
issues, INS completed a draft workload analysis model in June 1998 that
IHP managers intend to use to determine what resources are needed to
accomplish program goals; and (d) INS has taken limited actions to
improve its management practices.

--------------------------- Indexing Terms -----------------------------

 REPORTNUM:  GGD-99-3
     TITLE:  Criminal Aliens: INS' Efforts to Remove Imprisoned Aliens 
             Continue to Need Improvement
      DATE:  10/16/98
   SUBJECT:  Immigration or emigration
             Illegal aliens
             Criminals
             Deportation
             Hearings
             Crimes or offenses
             Immigration information systems
             Immigration and naturalization law
             Prisoners
IDENTIFIER:  INS Institutional Hearing Program
             
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Cover
================================================================ COVER


Report to the Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims,
Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives

October 1998

CRIMINAL ALIENS - INS' EFFORTS TO
REMOVE IMPRISONED ALIENS CONTINUE
TO NEED IMPROVEMENT

GAO/GGD-99-3

Imprisoned Aliens

(183629)


Abbreviations
=============================================================== ABBREV

  BOP - Bureau of Prisons
  DACS - Deportable Alien Control System
  EOIR - Executive Office for Immigration Review
  IHP - Institutional Hearing Program
  INS - Immigration and Naturalization Service
  IRP - Institutional Removal Program
  LESC - Law Enforcement Support Center
  MOU - memorandum of understanding

Letter
=============================================================== LETTER


B-278745

October 16, 1998

The Honorable Lamar S.  Smith
Chairman, Subcommittee on Immigration
 and Claims
Committee on the Judiciary
House of Representatives

Dear Mr.  Chairman: 

This report responds to your July 30, 1997, request that we continue
to monitor the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) efforts
to initiate and complete removal proceedings\1 for criminal aliens\2
through its Institutional Hearing Program (IHP).\3 In 1997, we
testified before your Subcommittee\4 that INS needed to improve its
efforts to identify potentially deportable criminal aliens in federal
and state prisons and complete the IHP for these aliens before they
were released.  We based this conclusion on our analysis of data
provided by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and five states on
potentially deportable criminal aliens who were released from their
prison systems between April and September, 1995.  INS' Executive
Associate Commissioner for Programs told the Subcommittee that INS
had improved program operations since 1995.  In response, the
Subcommittee asked us to review program performance during 1997.  To
accomplish this, we determined

  -- the extent to which deportable criminal aliens were included in
     the IHP,

  -- the extent to which INS completed removal hearings for
     deportable aliens during their time in prison or after their
     prison release, and

  -- whether INS had acted on recommendations that we made in our
     July 1997 testimony. 

The IHP is a cooperative program involving the INS, the Executive
Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), and federal and state
correctional agencies.  It was formally established in 1988 to enable
INS and EOIR to complete removal proceedings for criminal aliens
while they were still serving their sentences, thus eliminating the
need for agents to locate the aliens after their release, and freeing
up INS detention space for other cases.  With the proceedings
complete, expeditious removal of criminal aliens upon completion of
their sentence can occur.  Federal law requires the Attorney General
to initiate and, to the extent possible, complete removal proceedings
for aggravated felons\5 before their release from incarceration.  INS
has been delegated the authority to enforce the immigration laws.\6


--------------------
\1 Under revised provisions for the removal of aliens established in
the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of
1996, Public Law 104-208, aliens charged by INS as deportable are now
placed in "removal" proceedings as opposed to "deportation"
proceedings.  Proceedings initiated before the effective date of the
1996 Act would be deemed "deportation" proceedings.  For consistency,
we refer to deportation and removal proceedings as removal hearings
or proceedings throughout this report. 

\2 For definitions of "alien" and "criminal alien," see appendix I. 

\3 In June 1998, the IHP was subsumed under a broader program called
the Institutional Removal Program (IRP).  The IRP is to capture data
for all removals that originate in an institutional setting,
including the IHP; reinstatements of prior final removal orders; and
administrative removal orders.  During the period covered by our
review, the IRP was proposed but not official.  Therefore, this
report provides information almost exclusively on IHP performance. 

\4 Criminal Aliens:  INS' Efforts to Identify and Remove Imprisoned
Aliens Need to Be Improved (GAO/T-GGD-97-154, July 15, 1997). 

\5 The definition of "aggravated felony" is contained in the
Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended, codified at 8 U.S.C. 
1101(a)(43).  Examples of crimes that constitute aggravated felonies
are murder and certain drug and weapons trafficking crimes. 

\6 We focus in this report on INS' responsibilities in implementing
immigration laws. 


   RESULTS IN BRIEF
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :1

The results of our recent analysis indicate that INS' performance has
shown limited improvement since 1995, and we continue to have several
of the same concerns about the IHP.  In 1995, INS' database of
deportable aliens did not have records on about 34 percent of the
released inmates included in our analysis who had been identified by
the states and BOP as foreign born.  About 32 percent of these were
subsequently determined by INS' Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC)
to be potentially deportable criminal aliens.  In 1997, INS had no
records on 36 percent of such aliens, 27 percent of whom were
determined by LESC to be potentially deportable criminal aliens. 
Although some of these inmates were United States citizens and some
were ordered removed through means other than the IHP, a substantial
number were aliens on whom INS did not have records. 

In 1995, about 33 percent of these potentially deportable criminal
aliens for whom INS did not have records were aggravated felons at
the time of the analysis, as determined by LESC.  In our analysis of
1997 data, 63 percent of the potentially deportable criminal aliens
for whom INS did not have records were identified by LESC as being
aggravated felons.  This is important because federal law requires
INS to initiate removal proceedings for aggravated felons while they
are incarcerated and, to the extent possible, complete deportation
proceedings for these felons before their release from prison. 

In 1995, INS did not complete the IHP before prison release for 57
percent of the potentially deportable criminal aliens for whom INS
had records; as a result, INS incurred about $37 million in avoidable
detention costs.  In 1997, INS did not complete the IHP for about 50
percent of these aliens; the avoidable detention costs were about $40
million. 

At last year's hearing, the Chairman urged INS to fully implement our
recommendations for improving the IHP.  As of September 1998, INS had
made limited progress in doing so, as follows: 

  -- INS had begun to establish an automated system for tracking
     potentially deportable criminal aliens in BOP facilities, but it
     had not determined whether it will be able to use this system to
     track potentially deportable criminal aliens in state prison
     systems. 

  -- INS had not taken specific actions to ensure that aggravated
     felons are placed in removal proceedings while they are
     incarcerated and then taken into custody upon their release from
     prison. 

  -- Regarding resource issues, INS completed a draft workload
     analysis model in June 1998 that IHP managers intend to use to
     determine what resources are needed to accomplish program goals. 
     INS had not resolved the problem of high attrition among
     immigration agents, who are considered the backbone of the IHP. 

  -- INS has taken limited actions to address our recommendations to
     improve its management practices and still needs to improve its
     management oversight to meet program performance goals. 


   BACKGROUND
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :2

Criminal aliens annually cost our criminal justice system millions of
dollars, and these aliens are generally perceived to be a serious and
growing threat to public safety.  In response to these problems,
several major laws were passed between 1986 and 1996 that (1)
provided for the initiation of removal proceedings for certain
criminal aliens while they were incarcerated, (2) expanded the types
of crimes for which aliens could be deported, and (3) sought to
facilitate the expeditious removal of those aliens found to be
deportable. 

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (P.L.  99-603)
requires that INS initiate removal proceedings for criminal aliens as
expeditiously as possible after the date of conviction.  INS and EOIR
established the IHP to meet this requirement.  The Anti-Drug Abuse
Act of 1988 (P.L.  100-690) defined the crimes of murder and certain
drug and weapons trafficking crimes as "aggravated felonies" and
required INS to initiate and, to the extent possible, complete
removal proceedings for aggravated felons before their release from
incarceration.  It also required that INS take all such aggravated
felons into custody when the aliens are released from prison. 

Several laws passed in the 1990s, including the Illegal Immigration
Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, Public Law 104-208
(1996 Act), expanded the types of crimes that are considered
aggravated felonies.  Under the 1996 Act, INS is required to take all
aggravated felons and certain other criminal aliens into custody when
the aliens are released from prison.  Currently, INS may release
deportable criminal aliens, including aggravated felons, from custody
only if (1) the aliens were lawfully admitted to the United States,
or were not lawfully admitted to the United States but the designated
country of removal will not accept the aliens, and (2) the aliens
satisfy the Attorney General that they will not pose a danger to the
safety of other persons or of property and that they are likely to
appear for any scheduled proceeding. 

In addition to traditional removal proceedings, which require a
hearing before an immigration judge, Congress has provided
alternative methods for INS to remove certain criminal aliens.  The
Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (P.L.  103-322)
provided for administrative removals, thereby eliminating the hearing
requirement for those aliens who were not lawfully admitted for
permanent residence, were convicted of an aggravated felony, and were
not eligible for relief from removal.  The 1996 Act provided for
reinstatement of removal orders (referred to as a "final order of
deportation") against aliens who reentered the United States
illegally after being removed.  The prior order of removal is
reinstated from its original date and is not subject to being
reopened or reviewed; the alien is not eligible for and may not apply
for any relief. 


      THE IHP PROCESS
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :2.1

For criminal aliens who are in prison and have a right to an
immigration judge review before being removed, proceedings before an
immigration judge are to be conducted through the IHP.  As of
September 1998, the IHP was carried out at 15 federal and 61 state
prisons where INS staff are to conduct interviews and process aliens
for removal.  Since 1994, INS has developed written IHP enhancement
plans for BOP and states with large foreign-born inmate populations
to enhance the processing of aliens in prisons.  The plans, which
varied among BOP and the states, included such enhancements as
reducing the number of prison locations that INS staff had to visit
to process criminal aliens and increasing the number of INS staff who
process IHP cases.  For example, INS signed a memorandum of
understanding (MOU) with BOP to enable INS staff to process a large
portion of the foreign-born inmates by visiting 11 federal
institutions that were designated as IHP sites instead of visiting
more than 70 federal institutions.  At the state level, INS'
agreement with Texas was to enhance the IHP process by establishing
one state prison where all of the foreign-born inmates would be
identified and processed for hearings and from which inmates would be
released into INS custody. 

The IHP's goal is for INS and EOIR to complete removal proceedings
for all criminal aliens while they are still serving their sentences
and expeditiously remove aliens deemed deportable upon their release
from prison.  This action would eliminate the need for INS to take
aliens into long-term custody upon their release and would free up
INS detention space for other cases.  Aliens who do not complete the
IHP are often taken into INS custody after prison release to complete
the hearing process while in INS detention, and these aliens can be
ordered removed by an immigration judge during the detention period. 

INS agents generally rely on BOP and state corrections personnel to
notify them of incoming prisoners who state they are foreign born or
whom corrections personnel identify as foreign born.  According to
corrections personnel, they typically first learn that prisoners are
foreign born during prison intake procedures, which include
interviews with and record checks on arriving inmates.  The IHP
process begins when INS agents screen foreign-born inmates to
determine their deportability.  If the INS agent determines that an
inmate has committed a crime for which he or she can be deported, the
agent is to file a "detainer" with corrections officials.  A detainer
in a prisoner's record signifies that he or she is to be released to
INS custody upon completion of the prison sentence. 

The information that INS agents gather on criminal aliens during the
initial phase of the IHP process is to be used to prepare documents
notifying the aliens of INS' intention to deport them through removal
proceedings, administrative removal, or reinstatement of a prior
order.  INS attorneys are to review the notices for legal
sufficiency, and, for removal proceeding cases, INS files the cases
with EOIR and serves the aliens with a document charging them with
having committed a deportable offense.  At that point, the aliens are
included in the IHP. 

EOIR is to schedule an initial hearing and notify the alien.  The
purpose of the initial hearing is to explain the process to the
alien, resolve evidentiary issues, prepare a list of desired
witnesses, and address the issue of legal representation for the
alien.\7 The alien may immediately accept an order for deportation. 
Alternatively, if the alien contests removal, a subsequent hearing
may be held, during which witnesses may be called and evidence may be
entered supporting INS' charge of deportability and/or the alien's
claim for relief from removal.  After all of the evidence is
presented and appeals processes, if any, are completed, an
immigration judge renders a final decision.  If the alien is ordered
removed, a deportation order is to be served on the alien.  Before a
final decision on the case, INS is required to take certain
deportable aliens into custody, even if the removal proceedings have
not been completed.\8 Those in removal proceedings who receive a
final order of deportation, as well as those who are to be deported
through administrative and reinstatement orders, are to be held in
INS detention until they are removed from the United States. 

Appendix II contains a flowchart of the IHP process. 


--------------------
\7 The immigration judge is to inform the alien of his or her right
to be represented by counsel at no cost to the government.  The judge
also is to advise the alien of the availability of free legal service
programs and ensure that he or she has been given a list of such
programs. 

\8 During the time of our review, INS was required to take into
custody criminal aliens convicted of aggravated felonies and certain
other criminal aliens.  These criminal aliens may be released by INS
under certain circumstances. 


   OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, AND
   METHODOLOGY
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :3

To assess the performance of INS' efforts to deport criminal aliens,
we analyzed data on 19,639 individuals who were identified by BOP and
four states\9 as foreign born and released from prisons between
January 1 and June 30, 1997.  Our work was designed to determine

  -- the extent to which deportable criminal aliens were included in
     the IHP,

  -- the extent to which INS completed removal hearings for
     deportable aliens during their time in prison and after their
     release, and

  -- whether INS had acted on the recommendations that we made during
     our July 1997 testimony. 

Also, for this report we compared, where appropriate, IHP performance
in 1997 to the 1995 data on foreign-born inmates presented in our IHP
testimony.  We generally used the same methodology for our data
collection and analysis that we used for our July 1997 testimony. 
However, for our 1995 sample we were able to conduct a 16- to
22-month follow-up on the disposition of released inmates.  For the
1997 sample, time constraints limited us to doing a 9- to 15-month
follow-up.  Because 9 months was the common amount of time that all
inmates in both samples could be followed up, comparisons between the
1995 and 1997 results are based on a 9-month follow-up period from
the time an inmate was released. 

We concentrated primarily on the activities of INS--as opposed to
EOIR--because INS has the lead role in identifying incarcerated
criminal aliens, determining these aliens' deportability, initiating
removal proceedings, and removing aliens from the United States.  We
focused on IHP activities in the federal BOP and in California,
Florida, New York, and Texas, which are four of the five states that
were included in our July 1997 IHP study.  To identify which released
inmates were in or had completed removal proceedings, we asked EOIR
to do a computer match of EOIR data with data from BOP and four
states on foreign-born aliens released in the first half of 1997.  To
gather data on aliens released to INS custody and removed, we asked
INS to match data for cases with identifying alien numbers (A-number)
from BOP and the four states against INS' Deportable Alien Control
System.  We asked LESC to query several INS and criminal databases to
determine the immigrant and criminal status of released inmates who
did not have A-numbers and those who were not matched through EOIR or
INS databases. 

To assess INS' efforts to implement the five recommendations that we
made in our July 1997 testimony, we interviewed INS headquarters
officials and reviewed available documentation.  (See app.  III for a
detailed description of our objectives, scope, and methodology.)

Our work was conducted between November 1997 and September 1998 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 


--------------------
\9 We eliminated Arizona from our current study because the
Subcommittee request letter specified that we focus on BOP and the
four selected states.  Arizona accounted for a small number (626 of
17,320) of the total cases in our 1995 analysis. 


   INS STILL FAILED TO IDENTIFY
   ALL DEPORTABLE CRIMINAL ALIENS,
   INCLUDING AGGRAVATED FELONS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :4

As was the case when we testified before your Subcommittee in July
1997, we again found that INS had not identified all potentially
deportable imprisoned criminal aliens.  As a result, INS did not
fully comply with the legal requirements that it (1) place criminal
aliens who had committed aggravated felonies in removal proceedings
while they are incarcerated or (2) take those aggravated felons into
custody upon their release from prison. 

As we reported in our July 1997 testimony, our analysis of 1995 data
on 17,320 foreign-born inmates released from BOP and five state
prisons, showed that INS and EOIR did not have records on 5,884 (34
percent) of the released inmates.  Therefore, INS was unable to
determine whether any of these released inmates were potentially
deportable criminal aliens.  Of the 5,884 released inmates, INS' LESC
identified 1,899 (32 percent) as potentially deportable criminal
aliens on the basis of their immigration status and the nature of
their crime.  Furthermore, LESC identified 635 (33 percent) of the
1,899 potentially deportable criminal aliens as having committed
crimes that were defined in immigration law as aggravated felonies at
the time of LESC's determination.  Further review by INS found that
333--more than 50 percent--of the 635 cases were criminal aliens who
were potentially eligible for removal; in 45 cases, INS was unable to
determine whether the alien was potentially removable.  In the
remaining 257 cases, INS determined that the inmates were either
United States citizens, were deceased, had been granted relief from
deportation, or were not released from incarceration.  We did not
assess the reason for the discrepancy in the two determinations. 

Our current analysis of data on 19,639 foreign-born inmates who were
released from BOP and four state prisons between January 1 and June
30, 1997, showed that INS and EOIR did not have records on 7,144 (36
percent) of the released inmates.  We requested that LESC conduct a
search to determine whether any of these released inmates were
potentially deportable criminal aliens.\10 Of the 7,144 released
inmates, LESC identified 1,903 (27 percent) as potentially deportable
criminal aliens on the basis of their immigration status and the
nature of their crime.  Although aliens meeting these criteria are to
be screened by INS; assessed as to their removability; and, as
appropriate, put into removal proceedings as expeditiously as
possible following their convictions, neither INS' nor EOIR's
databases indicated that these actions occurred for any of these
aliens either while they were in prison or after they were released. 

Under the law, INS is required to initiate removal proceedings
against aggravated felons while they are in prison and take them into
custody upon their release.  LESC identified 1,198 (63 percent) of
the 1,903 potentially deportable criminal aliens as aggravated
felons.  Compared to our 1995 results on released foreign-born
inmates for whom INS and EOIR did not have records, our 1997 results
indicate an increase in aggravated felons.  Specifically, for inmates
with no records whom LESC determined to be potentially deportable
criminal aliens, LESC further found that 33 percent of the 1995
sample were aggravated felons at the time that LESC made its
determination, and 63 percent of the 1997 sample were aggravated
felons.  According to INS, this increase may be due to the additional
crimes classified as aggravated felonies in the 1996 Act. 

According to the INS and EOIR databases, none of the 1,903 potential
deportable criminal aliens had been in removal proceedings while they
were in prison or afterward, had been taken into INS custody, or had
been deported.  LESC provided information on the postrelease criminal
activities of the 1,198 aggravated felons as follows: 

  -- 80 of the 1,198 criminal aliens were rearrested,

  -- 19 of the 80 aliens were charged with committing additional
     felonies, and

  -- 15 of the 19 aliens were convicted of the felony charges. 

We asked LESC to provide us with information on the nature of the
crimes for which the 80 criminal aliens were rearrested.  These
included crimes such as assault, robbery, and drug offenses.  The
types of felonies for which the 15 aliens were convicted included
crimes mostly involving drug possession, burglary, theft, and
robbery. 


--------------------
\10 LESC provided information on 6,579 inmates.  Approximately 140
files from Florida could not be searched because of insufficient
information on the inmates, and 425 files from New York were not
completed in time to be included in our analysis.  In addition, we
identified duplicate inmate records to the extent that we could and
eliminated them from our analysis. 


   INS DID NOT COMPLETE THE IHP
   FOR ABOUT ONE-HALF OF THE
   RELEASED CRIMINAL ALIENS,
   RESULTING IN AVOIDABLE
   DETENTION COSTS AMOUNTING TO
   MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :5

We performed an analysis of data on foreign-born inmates who,
according to BOP and the corrections departments of the four states
we reviewed, were released from their prison systems during the first
6 months of 1997 and, according to INS and EOIR data, were
potentially deportable.\11 There were 12,495 released inmates in this
population.  We found that about 45 percent of these inmates were
released from prison with a final deportation order (having completed
the IHP), about 3 percent were released from prison without a
deportation order but with INS' having completed the removal hearing
process, and about 36 percent were released from prison before INS
completed the process.  For the remaining 15 percent of the inmates,
there was no indication that hearings were completed either before or
after prison release.  Figure 1 provides information on the
disposition of all the cases that were indicated by INS and EOIR as
potentially deportable during 6-month periods in 1997 and 1995. 

   Figure 1:  Disposition of
   Potentially Deportable Inmates
   Released From BOP and Selected
   States' Prisons During 6-Month
   Periods in 1997 and 1995

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)


Note:  Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding. 

Source:  GAO analysis of BOP and state data. 

Compared to our analysis of 1995 data, when INS completed the IHP
before release from prison for 43 percent of the 11,436 released
inmates who were deemed potentially deportable, INS completed the IHP
for 48 percent\12 of such inmates released during the first half of
1997.  Furthermore, 40 percent of the 1995 cases completed the IHP
with a final deportation order compared to 45 percent of the 1997
cases.  Conversely, the percentage of cases completing the hearing
process after prison release decreased from 41 percent in 1995 to 36
percent in 1997.  Thus, INS made some improvement in completing the
IHP for incarcerated aliens; but for the majority of cases, INS still
did not complete the hearing process before prison release. 

For two states, California and New York, IHP completion rates before
prison release were generally the same in our analyses of 1995 and
1997 data.  In Texas, IHP completions had increased from 21 percent
to 49 percent.  In BOP, IHP completions had increased from 33 percent
to 48 percent.  INS officials told us that they believed these
increases could be attributed to enhancements made in 1996 to the IHP
in this state and BOP.  Our analyses of 1995 and 1997 data showed
that completion of IHP hearings in Florida declined from 72 percent
to 59 percent.  According to INS officials, the 1995 data may reflect
an artificially high number of IHP completions due to an April 1994
MOU between Florida and INS.  Under the MOU, the Florida Department
of Corrections and INS were to establish a demonstration project to
identify alien inmates who could have their sentences commuted and
subsequently be excluded or deported.  According to INS officials, in
fiscal year 1995, about 500 alien inmates were identified as
deportable through this project.  The project was designed to
expedite the deportation of certain criminal aliens to help relieve
overcrowding in Florida's correctional institutions.  (App.  IV shows
the disposition of inmates released from BOP and four state prison
facilities in greater detail.)

Similar to our 1995 analysis, our current analysis of the 12,495
potentially deportable cases for which INS had records showed that
INS was able to quickly remove those deportable aliens who had
completed the IHP with final deportation orders before they were
released from prison--75 percent were removed from the United States
within 1 week of their prison release in both 1995 and 1997.  During
both time periods, at least 92 percent of such cases were removed in
less than 1 month.  Our analyses also showed that of the aliens for
whom INS started removal hearings before prison release and completed
the hearings after release, 68 percent of the aliens were removed in
less than 1 month in 1995, compared to 66 percent in 1997.  However,
there was a notable improvement in removal time for aliens for whom
INS started and completed the hearing process after their release
from prison.  Specifically, in 1995, 36 percent of such aliens were
removed within 1 month, compared to 59 percent in 1997.  INS and EOIR
officials said that the improvement may be due to an increase in the
immigration law judge time spent at INS detention facilities since
1995.  The INS officials said that the improvement also may be
attributable to their ability to obtain travel documents more readily
than in the past from some countries that had been considered
difficult.  (App.  V shows the time that elapsed between release from
prison and deportation for those aliens who were removed.)

Not completing removal proceedings during incarceration means that
INS has to use its limited detention space to house released criminal
aliens rather than using the space to detain other aliens.  INS has
acknowledged that it incurs detention costs for housing these aliens,
costs that our analyses showed could be avoided.  Our analysis of
fiscal year 1995 data showed that detention costs of about $37
million could have been avoided for criminal aliens who completed the
hearing process after prison release and were deported within 9
months of release.  Our analysis of fiscal year 1997 data showed that
INS could have avoided about $40 million in detention costs for such
cases.\13


--------------------
\11 INS' data on the IHP were limited because INS had not identified
all of the individuals who were foreign-born inmates in the BOP and
state prison systems and did not maintain a database of these
individuals that would enable INS to routinely track the IHP status
of all potentially deportable inmates.  Therefore, as was the case in
fiscal year 1995, INS could not readily determine where individuals
were in the IHP process, nor could it readily provide summary
information on the number of criminal aliens that had committed
aggravated felonies. 

\12 In addition to removal proceedings, our analysis found that INS
had issued 1,668 administrative and reinstatement final orders during
the first 6 months of 1997.  As previously mentioned, legislation
authorized INS to use administrative removals in 1994 and
reinstatement of removal orders in 1996.  To make our 1995 and 1997
results comparable, we did not include these removals in our analysis
of IHP removal proceedings.  If we were to assume that the 1,668
administrative and reinstatement final orders were issued before
prison release, and if we had included these removals in our analysis
as having completed the IHP, INS would have completed the IHP for 54
percent of the inmates released from prison.  However, INS had no
data on how many of these orders were issued before prison release. 
Therefore, we estimated that IHP completions did not exceed 54
percent. 

\13 See appendix VI for a discussion of how we estimated these
detention costs. 


   INS HAD NOT FULLY IMPLEMENTED
   OUR 1997 RECOMMENDATIONS FOR
   PROGRAM IMPROVEMENTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :6

We concluded in our July 1997 testimony that if fully implemented,
the IHP would be an effective way to achieve the requirements of the
law regarding the timely deportation of eligible criminal aliens.  We
also stated that INS had not processed aliens in a way that would
ensure optimum performance results and that INS did not have a
systematic basis for determining the performance results it could
accomplish with various resource levels.  We recommended steps that
INS could take to improve the operations of and outcomes from the IHP
to include establishing a nationwide database, establishing controls
to ensure that proceedings for aggravated felons are inititated
before release from prison, addressing certain resource issues, and
improving management oversight.  In a December 1997 letter to your
Subcommittee, INS stated that it planned to act on our
recommendations.  INS has taken some action on most of the
recommended program improvements; however, none of these actions had
been fully implemented as of September 1998. 


      INS IS PILOTING A BOP
      NATIONWIDE DATABASE
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.1

We stated in our July 1997 testimony that INS needed better
information about prison inmates--more specifically, information
about which inmates are eligible for the IHP and which of these
inmates have been and have not been included in the program.  Our
work at that time showed that INS' databases did not contain complete
and current information on the IHP status of individual foreign-born
inmates at any given point in time.  INS could use this information
to determine which of the released foreign-born inmates had been
screened for the IHP, identified as deportable, or placed in the
hearing process.  We recommended that the Commissioner of INS
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. 

In a December 1997 letter responding to our recommendations, INS told
your Subcommittee that it recognized the need to automate its
processes for identifying and tracking its processing and removal of
criminal aliens.  INS has begun an effort to establish an automated
federal IHP tracking system that is to capture information, such as
name, date of birth, country of birth, and A-number, if available, on
foreign-born inmates in BOP correctional facilities.  This
information is to be used to perform record checks in other databases
to make a determination on an alien's removability.  As currently
designed, the tracking system does not include information on removal
hearings, nor does it capture data on whether aliens have been
removed.  According to INS, it plans to augment the tracking system
by making it compatible with another system that is to include this
information.  We did not assess the feasibility of making the systems
compatible.  Also, INS officials told us that the plan is to expand
this system to include state IHP programs, but no action had been
taken as of June 1998 to determine whether the tracking system could
be adapted to state data systems. 

INS is in the process of developing, testing, and implementing the
tracking system at federal facilities.  According to an INS official,
the tracking system was pilot tested at INS' Oakdale, LA, federal IHP
site between March and June, 1998.  The official also said that the
tracking system was implemented at three federal IHP locations,
including Oakdale, as of the end of fiscal year 1998, and that INS
expects to have the tracking system operational at all remaining
federal IHP locations during fiscal year 1999. 

According to INS' project manager, $1.6 million was allocated in
fiscal year 1998 to develop the tracking system and make it
operational at four federal locations.  Funding levels for fiscal
year 1999 were still tentative as of September 1998 because INS'
appropriations bill had not been enacted. 


      INS HAD NOT ESTABLISHED
      CONTROLS TO ENSURE THAT
      PROCEEDINGS FOR AGGRAVATED
      FELONS ARE INITIATED BEFORE
      PRISON RELEASE
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.2

The law requires INS to take certain actions regarding criminal
aliens who have been convicted of aggravated felonies beyond those
actions required for other criminal aliens.  As previously mentioned,
INS is required by law to initiate and, to the extent possible,
complete removal proceedings against aggravated felons while they are
incarcerated and to take these felons into custody upon their
release.  Our work showed, as it did in July 1997, that INS had not
complied fully with the required provisions of the law. 

In our July 1997 testimony, we recommended that the Commissioner of
INS give priority to aliens serving time for aggravated felonies by
establishing controls to ensure that these aliens (1) are identified
from among the universe of foreign-born inmates provided by BOP and
the states, (2) are placed into removal proceedings while in prison,
and (3) are taken into custody upon their release.  In its December
1997 letter to the Subcommittee, INS stated that a control system to
single out aggravated felons as a unique group was not needed since
INS should be screening all foreign-born inmates as they enter the
prison systems. 

We asked INS to explain our finding that aggravated felons had been
released from prison into communities without INS' having identified
them.  According to INS officials, to provide an accurate accounting
for these cases, they would need to conduct individual case reviews. 
They thought the aggravated felons in our sample may not have been
identified by INS agents for two reasons.  First, the officials said
that a backlog exists for cases from previous years when INS did not
screen all foreign-born inmates when they entered the prison systems. 
INS had each of its regional offices submit a plan to address the
backlog in the seven states with the highest concentration of
foreign-born inmates.\14

According to INS, these backlog cases are to be addressed by December
1998.  Second, the officials said that resources for the IHP are
inadequate to address the increasing number of aliens being
incarcerated.  If IHP resources are inadequate, we believe that the
risk of aggravated felons being released into communities will
persist unless INS establishes controls to ensure that these felons
are identified. 


--------------------
\14 This action was taken in response to a September 1995 Department
of Justice, Office of Inspector General, report recommending that INS
eliminate the current backlog of unprocessed foreign-born inmates in
state prisons, giving first priority to the seven states with the
highest concentrations of foreign-born prison inmates.  The seven
states are Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New
York, and Texas. 


      RESOURCE ISSUES RELATED TO
      THE IHP HAD NOT BEEN FULLY
      ADDRESSED
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.3

INS received additional funding for the removal of criminal and
noncriminal deportable aliens in fiscal year 1997, which included the
IHP, but did not request or receive additional funding in fiscal year
1998.  To address the need for more IHP resources, INS requested $31
million for the IHP in the fiscal year 1999 President's budget to aid
in INS' efforts to identify criminal aliens for removal.  In the
budget request, INS stated that additional program enhancements, such
as increased investigations and detention staff, video capabilities
for conducting hearings, and detention vehicles to transport aliens,
are required to address the growth of incarcerated criminal alien
populations at existing program sites and to expand into new
locations where prison populations are growing. 

In our July 1997 testimony, we reported to your Subcommittee that INS
had established IHP performance goals without having a systematic
basis for determining the performance results it could accomplish
with various resource levels.  We reported that INS had not developed
a uniform method for projecting the resources it would need--taking
into consideration the level of cooperation from BOP and the
states--to achieve its overall goal of completing removal proceedings
for every eligible foreign-born inmate before release from prison. 

In our July 1997 testimony, we recommended that the Commissioner of
INS (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 was to 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.  In June 1998, a draft
workload analysis model was submitted to the Office of the Executive
Associate Commissioner for Field Operations.  The model contains a
detailed analysis of the tasks involved in identifying, processing,
detaining, and removing incarcerated aliens and the average amount of
time associated with each task.  INS staff visited 23 locations in 5
states and 3 federal facilities to develop the model.  As of
September 1998, the draft workload analysis model had not been
approved; thus, INS had not yet used it to make determinations about
IHP funding and staffing needs. 

We also reported in our July 1997 testimony that INS had a 30-percent
attrition rate for immigration agents, which was significantly higher
than the 11-percent average attrition rate for all INS staff.  We
recommended that the Commissioner identify the causes of immigration
agent attrition and take steps to ensure that staffing was adequate
to achieve IHP program goals.  INS officials told us that the
attrition rate for immigration agents during fiscal year 1997 was 32
percent; thus, the problem had not been resolved.  INS has identified
what it believes are the causes for the high attrition rate but has
not determined the appropriate solution to the problem.  According to
INS officials, one reason for the high attrition rate was that
immigration agents who were hired to staff the IHP often left for
potentially better paying positions within INS, such as the special
agent position.  Benefits and advancement opportunities for
immigration agents are limited, but these agents often possess many
of the qualifications required for INS positions with greater pay and
advancement potential.  Thus, immigration agents are competitive for
filling vacancies in those potentially better paying positions.  The
IHP workload analysis plan previously mentioned included a
recommendation that a group be formed to conduct an in-depth review
of the immigration agent position situation.  As part of the IHP
workload analysis, INS is also considering several options for
staffing the IHP, one of which would be to eliminate the immigration
agent position and use deportation officers to process IHP cases. 


      BETTER MANAGEMENT OVERSIGHT
      STILL NEEDED
---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :6.4

We reported to your Subcommittee in July 1997 that INS' top
management (1) had not formally communicated to the district
directors how additional staff (e.g., newly hired immigration agents)
should be used in the IHP; (2) did not ensure that specific
operational goals were established for each INS district director
with IHP responsibilities; and (3) did not respond with specific
corrective actions when it became apparent that the program would not
achieve its goals for fiscal year 1996. 

Therefore, we recommended that INS establish and effectively
communicate a clear policy on the role of special agents in the IHP
(e.g., whether immigration agents were replacements for or
supplements to special agents).  We also said that INS should use a
workload analysis model to set IHP goals for district directors with
IHP responsibilities.  Furthermore, we said that if it appeared that
IHP goals would not be met, INS should document actions taken to
correct the problem. 

In its December 1997 letter to your Subcommittee, INS stated that the
role of special agents in the IHP had been communicated to regional
and district directors.  The Office of Field Operations sent a
memorandum to field managers in October 1997 to clarify the use of
special agents in the IHP and define the amount of time special
agents could devote to IHP work on the basis of their grade level. 
However, the memorandum did not clarify the issue that we had raised
in our July 1997 testimony, that is, whether immigration agents were
replacements for or supplements to special agents in doing IHP work. 
INS is currently reviewing the structure and staffing of the IHP and
the results of this review may affect the role of immigration agents. 

INS stated in its December 1997 letter that it establishes regional
goals that represent a composite of the individual district's goals. 
An INS official told us that INS management prefers that the regional
directors have the flexibility to manage the district goals and
resources.  Our current work found that INS had not set IHP goals for
district directors in either fiscal year 1997 or 1998.  Furthermore,
for fiscal year 1998, INS did not set goals for regional directors. 
Servicewide IHP goals were not communicated to regional directors
until February 1998.  According to an INS official, the goals were
not finalized until February because INS' position allocations for
fiscal year 1998 were not completed until December 1997, and the
agency was trying to transition from its former priorities management
system to a results-oriented system so that it would be more
consistent with the requirements of the Government Performance and
Results Act.\15

In its December 1997 letter to the Subcommittee, INS did not
specifically address the recommendation to document actions taken by
the agency when it appeared that IHP goals would not be met.  INS set
a fiscal year 1998 servicewide goal to remove 16,800 criminal aliens
through the IHP.  At its May 1998 midyear review to assess whether
targeted goals were being met, INS realized that it might have
difficulty meeting this goal.  Following the midyear review, the
Commissioner of INS requested that the regional directors develop
plans for increasing criminal removals for the remainder of the
fiscal year and submit these plans to the Office of Policy and
Planning.  According to an INS official, the plans were to be
reviewed by the Office of Policy and Planning and were to be used as
a benchmark for the August 1998 review of the IHP goals. 


--------------------
\15 The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (P.L.  103-62)
was enacted to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of federal
programs by establishing a system to set goals for program
performance and to measure results. 


   CONCLUSIONS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :7

INS has shown limited improvement in its IHP performance on the basis
of our analysis of its 1997 program performance.  This, coupled with
INS' limited progress in fully implementing our recommendations,
suggests that INS still does not know whether it has identified all
potentially deportable criminal aliens in the BOP and state prison
systems.  More importantly, INS still is not doing all it should to
ensure that it is initiating removal proceedings for aggravated
felons and taking the felons into custody upon their release from
prison.  We continue to believe that the recommendations we made in
our 1997 testimony are valid and that INS should fully implement them
as soon as possible. 


   AGENCY COMMENTS
------------------------------------------------------------ Letter :8

We provided INS with a draft of the report and on September 11, 1998,
we met with INS' Executive Associate Commissioner for Field
Operations and other officials from INS' Offices of Field Operations,
General Counsel, Policy and Planning, Internal Audit, and
Congressional Relations to discuss its contents.  They generally
concurred with our findings and provided technical comments that we
incorporated where appropriate. 


---------------------------------------------------------- Letter :8.1

We are sending copies of this report to the INS Commissioner, the
Attorney General, the Chairmen and Ranking Minority Members of the
House and Senate Appropriations Committees, the Chairman and Ranking
Minority Member of the Senate Subcommittee on Immigration, and the
Director of the Office of Management and Budget.  Copies will also be
made available to others upon request. 

Major contributors to this report are listed in appendix VII.  If you
have any questions about this report, please contact me on (202)
512-8777. 

Sincerely yours,

Norman J.  Rabkin
Director, Administration
 of Justice Issues


DEFINITIONS OF "ALIENS" AND
"CRIMINAL ALIENS"
=========================================================== Appendix I


   ALIENS
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:1

Aliens are individuals who are not citizens of the United States,
regardless of whether their immigration status is legal or illegal. 
Legal aliens include (1) immigrants who entered the country with
valid visas and were later granted resident status by INS and (2)
nonimmigrants, such as students, tourists, temporary workers, and
business visitors who do not violate the conditions of their visas. 
Illegal aliens include those who (1) enter the country without visas
or passports; (2) do not present themselves for inspection by INS;
(3) enter the country using fraudulent documents; and (4) are
nonimmigrants who have violated a condition of their visas, such as
remaining in the country beyond the authorized period of time. 


   CRIMINAL ALIENS
--------------------------------------------------------- Appendix I:2

The term criminal aliens, as used in this report, includes all
aliens, legally or illegally residing in the country, who have been
convicted of a crime.  In some cases, the aliens' crime may not
warrant removal. 



THE IHP PROCESS
========================================================== Appendix II

   Figure II.1:  Flowchart of INS'
   IHP Process for Removal
   Proceedings

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)



   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Note:  INS may serve some aliens with a charging document that
notifies them that they are to be removed under an administrative or
reinstatement of a prior removal order.  These types of removals do
not require a hearing and are not filed with EOIR. 


OBJECTIVES, SCOPE, AND METHODOLOGY
========================================================= Appendix III

Following our testimony in July 1997 on the Immigration and
Naturalization Service's (INS) Institutional Hearing Program (IHP),
the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims
requested that we continue to monitor the IHP and evaluate its
effectiveness.  To accomplish this, we determined

  -- the extent to which deportable criminal aliens were included in
     the IHP,

  -- the extent to which INS completed removal hearings for
     deportable aliens during their time in prison or after their
     prison release, and

  -- whether INS had acted on recommenations that we made in our July
     1997 testimony. 

We analyzed IHP results for the federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and
the corrections systems of four states--California, Florida, New
York, and Texas.  We analyzed these locations because they were
included in our previous 1997 testimony regarding INS' IHP efforts
and they were of specific interest to the requester. 

To determine whether INS had improved its IHP performance, we
gathered and analyzed data for inmates released from January to June,
1997, as a comparison to our past IHP analysis for inmates released
from April to September, 1995.  We concentrated on INS--as opposed to
the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which makes
adjudicative decisions regarding deportability--because INS has the
lead role in identifying incarcerated criminal aliens, determining
their deportability, and initiating removal proceedings. 

We sought to determine the extent to which IHP-eligible inmates were
placed into removal proceedings, completed the IHP process, and were
removed from the United States upon release from prison.  To answer
these questions, we obtained data from BOP and correctional
departments in four states on all foreign-born inmates released from
January through June, 1997.  The data from the January to June, 1997,
period are considered to be representative of the entire year.  We
did not determine the completeness or accuracy of the lists of
foreign-born inmates provided to us.  We asked INS to conduct a
computer match of the records with identifying alien numbers
(A-number) against information in its Deportable Alien Control System
(DACS) to identify those released foreign-born inmates who were taken
into INS custody upon their release from prison, were detained, or
were removed from the United States. 

For this review, we did not independently assess the reliability of
DACS data, although we did ask INS about what, if any, quality
controls and procedures were used to ensure the reliability of those
data elements that we used in this review.  The data elements
included whether the alien (1) was taken into custody or detained,
(2) was issued a final deportation order, and (3) was removed.  INS
personnel who operate and manage the DACS database responded that
both the accuracy and completeness of these data elements in DACS are
good.  They stated that supervisors perform random checks on DACS
data each time an officer submits a case for review.  Further, they
reported that all of these data elements are entered into DACS, but
that depending on the complexity of the case, there may be some lag
time between the occurrence of events and input of data into DACS. 

We also asked EOIR to conduct a computer match of the records against
information in its Automated Nationwide System for Immigration Review
to identify those released foreign-born inmates who had been in
removal proceedings.  Again, we did not independently assess the
database's reliability, but we asked EOIR about what, if any, quality
controls and procedures were used to ensure the reliability of those
data elements that we used in this review.  The data elements
included (1) whether the alien was placed in removal proceedings and
(2) the outcome of the proceedings.  EOIR personnel who operate and
manage the agency's automated system responded that the accuracy and
completeness of the data fields are superior, with error rates being
less than 1 percent.  They stated that reports to verify data
accuracy are run daily, weekly, and monthly and that EOIR staff are
held to high performance standards with respect to data integrity. 

From these data matches, we determined for BOP and four states how
many of the foreign-born inmates were included in and completed the
IHP before prison release, how many completed removal proceedings
within 9 months after release, and how many had started but had not
completed proceedings within 9 months after their release from
prison.  For those who were issued a final order of deportation, we
were able to determine how many had been removed from the United
States through March 1998.  We selected the January through June,
1997, time frame because we wanted data that were relatively recent
and at the same time sufficiently in the past so that we could follow
up on released criminal aliens and determine whether they had
completed removal proceedings and had been removed from the United
States. 

In addition, we sought to compare IHP results for January to June,
1997, with the results of our previous analysis of April to
September, 1995, data.  We analyzed the 1995 and 1997 data the same
to be able to directly compare program performance.  To make the
information comparable, we used a follow-up period of 9 months after
prison release for all inmates in the 1995 and 1997 samples.  We did
this because 9 months was the maximum amount of time that all inmates
in both samples had the opportunity to be followed up. 

Of the 19,639 foreign-born released inmates, 7,144 were not in either
INS' or EOIR's database.  We sought to determine the extent to which
this sizable, unmatched group consisted of (1) U.S.  citizens who
were not candidates for the IHP or (2) criminal aliens who should
have been, but were not, included in the IHP and who were released
from prison without being taken into INS custody. 

To determine the composition of the group of 7,144 unmatched cases,
we asked the Law Enforcement Support Center (LESC)--an INS unit that
conducts database searches for local law enforcement agencies to
determine whether arrested individuals are criminal aliens--to
individually search the 7,144 unmatched cases\16 with information
contained in 6 INS databases,\17 the Federal Bureau of
Investigation's National Crime Information Center, and state criminal
history databases.  The results enabled us to determine (1) how many
individuals were U.S.  citizens and, therefore, ineligible for the
IHP; (2) how many individuals were deportable criminal aliens who
were released from prisons; (3) whether any identified criminal
aliens had been convicted of committing an aggravated felony; and (4)
whether any identified criminal aliens had committed additional
crimes, including aggravated felonies, since their prison release. 

To determine what actions INS took to improve the effectiveness of
the IHP, we reviewed INS' planning documents pertaining to the
removal of criminal aliens and the IHP's annual goals.  We
interviewed INS officials about actions the agency had taken or
planned to take to implement our recommendations for improving IHP
performance results. 


--------------------
\16 LESC provided information on 6,579 inmates.  Approximately 140
files from Florida could not be searched because of insufficient
information on the inmates, and 425 files from New York were not
completed in time to be included in our analysis.  In addition, we
identified duplicate inmate records to the extent that we could and
eliminated them from our analysis. 

\17 The six INS databases searched by LESC were (1) the Central Index
System, (2) the Computer-linked Application Information Management
System, (3) the Deportable Alien Control System, (4) the National
Automated Immigration Lookout System II, (5) the Nonimmigrant
Information System, and (6) the Student and Schools System. 


DISPOSITION OF POTENTIALLY
DEPORTABLE INMATES RELEASED FROM
BOP AND SELECTED STATES' PRISONS
DURING 6-MONTH PERIODS IN 1997 AND
1995
========================================================== Appendix IV

   Figure IV.1:  Disposition of
   Potentially Deportable Inmates
   Released From BOP and Four
   States' Prisons During a
   6-Month Period in 1997
   (Jan.-June)

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Note:  Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding. 

Source:  GAO analysis of BOP and state data. 

   Figure IV.2:  Disposition of
   Potentially Deportable Inmates
   Released From BOP and Five
   States' Prisons During a
   6-Month Period in 1995
   (Apr.-Sept.)

   (See figure in printed
   edition.)

Note:  Percentages may not add to 100 due to rounding. 

Source:  GAO analysis of BOP and state data. 


TIME FROM RELEASE TO DEPORTATION
FOR ALIENS RELEASED FROM BOP AND
SELECTED STATES' PRISONS DURING
PERIODS IN 1997 AND 1995 WITH
FINAL DEPORTATION ORDERS
=========================================================== Appendix V



                                    Table V.1
                     
                       Time From Release to Deportation for
                        Aliens Released From BOP and Four
                     States' Prisons During a 6-Month Period
                      in 1997 With Final Deportation Orders

                                           Hearings started    Hearings started
                                              in prison,        and completed
                       IHP completed in    completed after       after prison
                            prison             release             release
                      ------------------  ------------------  ------------------
Time from release to
deportation             Number   Percent    Number   Percent    Number   Percent
--------------------  --------  --------  --------  --------  --------  --------
< 1 month                4,408        93     2,025        66       253        59
1 mo. to < 2 mos.          168         4       551        18        95        22
2 mos. to < 4 mos.          89         2       308        10        54        13
4 mos. to < 6 mos.          45         1        83         3        10         2
6 mos. to < 8 mos.          19        \a        50         2        11         3
8 mos. to < 10 mos.          8        \a        30         1         7         2
================================================================================
Total                  4,737\b       100   3,047\b       100     430\b     101\c
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  The four states are California, Florida, New York, and Texas. 

\a Less than 1 percent. 

\b Of criminal aliens released from prisons in 4 states and BOP from
January through June 1997, 5,663 had completed the IHP with a final
deportation order (see app.  IV); 4,737 of the aliens (84 percent)
were deported within 9 months of their release.  Of 4,011 released
criminal aliens who completed removal proceedings after their release
from prison, 3,477 (87 percent) were deported within 9 months of
release. 

\c Total does not add to 100 percent due to rounding. 

Source:  GAO analysis of BOP and state data. 



                                    Table V.2
                     
                       Time From Release to Deportation for
                        Aliens Released From BOP and Five
                     States' Prisons\ During a 6-Month Period
                      in 1995 With Final Deportation Orders

                                           Hearings started    Hearings started
                                              in prison,        and completed
                       IHP completed in    completed after       after prison
                            prison             release             release
                      ------------------  ------------------  ------------------
Time from release to
deportation             Number   Percent    Number   Percent    Number   Percent
--------------------  --------  --------  --------  --------  --------  --------
< 1 month                3,080        92     2,456        68       130        36
1 mo. to < 2 mos.          135         4       644        18        55        15
2 mos. to < 4 mos.          80         2       296         8        55        15
4 mos. to < 6 mos.          25        \a       110         3        47        13
6 mos. to < 8 mos.          18        \a        47         1        34         9
8 mos. to < 10 mos.          9        \a        34        \1        45        12
================================================================================
Total                  3,347\b       100   3,587\b      99\c     366\b       100
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note:  The five states are Arizona, California, Florida, New York,
and Texas. 

\a Less than 1 percent. 

\b Of criminal aliens released from prisons in 5 states and BOP from
April through September 1995, 4,582 had completed the IHP with a
final deportation order (see app.  IV); 3,347 of the aliens (73
percent) were deported within 9 months of their release.  Of 4,160
released criminal aliens who completed removal proceedings after
their release from prison, 3,953 (95 percent) were deported within 9
months of their release. 

\c Total does not add to 100 percent due to rounding. 

Source:  GAO analysis of BOP and state data. 


GAO ESTIMATE OF AVOIDABLE
DETENTION COSTS
========================================================== Appendix VI

Because most criminal aliens released from state and federal prisons
in fiscal year 1997 had not completed the IHP, INS needed to detain
these aliens until their removal hearings could be completed.  This
situation placed unnecessary demands on INS' limited detention space
and, as shown below, cost INS over $40 million over a 9-month period
that could have been avoided. 



                               Table VI.1
                
                   INS' Detention Costs for Deported
                Criminal Aliens Who Did Not Complete the
                 IHP During Fiscal Years 1997 and 1995

                                 Criminal aliens released to INS from
                                   prison without final deportation
                                                orders
                                --------------------------------------
                                 Fiscal year 1997    Fiscal year 1995
                                    (N=22,974)          (N=20,118)
                                ------------------  ------------------
                                 Started   Started   Started   Started
                                  before     after    before     after
                                  prison    prison    prison    prison
Hearing process                  release   release   release   release
------------------------------  --------  --------  --------  --------
Estimated number of criminal      20,217     2,757    18,307     1,811
 aliens
Average avoidable days in             26        33        23        88
 detention\a
Average daily detention cost      $65.61    $65.61  $64.45\b  $64.45\b
Fiscal year detention cost\c    $34,487,  $5,969,2  $27,137,  $10,271,
                                     372        63       381       268
======================================================================
Total avoidable fiscal year     $40,456,            $37,408,
 detention cost                      635                 649
                                     (FY                 (FY
                                   1997)               1995)
----------------------------------------------------------------------
Note 1:  These data are based on aliens who were deported within 9
months of release from prison. 

Note 2:  INS revised its procedures for tracking alien travel,
detention, and welfare costs.  The revised procedures, effective
fiscal year 1997, eliminated certain types of costs that were
previously part of the daily detention costs, added some costs that
had not been included previously, and classified some of the same
costs in different categories. 

\a Avoidable days = average number of days in detention beyond those
spent by criminal aliens who had a final order when released. 

\b The 1995 average daily detention cost of $64.45 is about 2 percent
less than the 1995 estimate of $65.75 reported in our previous
testimony because all costs in this report account for the proportion
of detainees who are spread among three types of facilities--INS
Service Processing Centers, contract facilities, and state and local
correction facilities--that have different daily rates. 

\c Avoidable detention cost = number of aliens X average net days in
detention X average daily detention cost. 

Source:  GAO analysis of INS data. 

We used our sample results to estimate total avoidable detention
costs nationwide for criminal aliens released from prisons to INS
without final deportation orders.  Our calculations were based on
criminal aliens in our 1995 and 1997 samples who completed removal
proceedings and were deported within 9 months of release from prison. 
Using these data and information from INS on the total number of
criminal aliens released to INS in 1995 and 1997 without final
deportation orders, we derived separate nationwide cost estimates for
detaining criminal aliens (1) who started proceedings before prison,
completed them after prison, and were deported within 9 months of
prison release and (2) who started and completed proceedings after
prison and were deported within 9 months of prison release. 

Our sample of 12,495 potentially deportable criminal aliens released
from BOP and four states' prisons during the first half of 1997
included 6,450 inmates who were released to INS without INS' having
completed the inmates' hearing process while they were in prison. 
Nationwide, INS reported that in all of fiscal year 1997, a total of
22,974 such inmates were released into its custody.  Of the 6,450
released inmates that we studied, 3,477 inmates had received
deportation orders and were deported within 9 months of prison
release.  We were able to determine for 3,477 of these released
inmates both the average number of days detained by INS and whether
the hearing process started before or after prison release.  Of the
3,477 inmates, 88 percent started removal proceedings in prison, and
they were held for an average of 34 days.  The remaining 12 percent
of these inmates started removal proceedings after prison release and
were held for an average of 41 days.  For the remaining 2,973 inmates
in our study, we assumed that the timing of removal proceedings and
the average number of days in INS detention were similar.  The 2,973
inmates included (1) 1,932 inmates for whom there was no evidence
that the hearing process was completed, (2) 507 inmates for whom the
hearing process was completed after release from prison and no
deportation order was issued, and (3) 534 inmates for whom the
hearing process was completed after release from prison and a
deportation order was issued.  These data provide the estimate that
for 88 percent, or 20,217 of the 22,974 released inmates, INS would
have begun their hearing process before release, and that for the
remaining 2,757 released inmates, INS would have begun their hearing
process after release. 

To determine the avoidable detention cost, we subtracted 8 days from
each of the observed detention times because this was the average
detention time for criminal aliens who completed the IHP with final
deportation orders.  According to INS, the average daily cost to
detain a single alien was $65.61 in fiscal year 1997. 

To compare avoidable detention costs in 1997 with 1995, we dropped
all cases from both of our 1997 and 1995 samples in which aliens had
been out of prison for longer than 9 months.  This was because 9
months was the maximum amount of time that every foreign-born inmate
in both samples was followed up in our study.  Using a weighted
average, we found that in fiscal year 1995, INS could have avoided
over $37 million in detention costs.  In 1995, the average detention
time for criminal aliens who completed the IHP with final deportation
orders was 9 days, the average daily detention cost was $1.16 per
alien higher in 1997, and the number of aliens who were detained and
deported within 9 months of release was nearly 3,000 less than in
1997. 

At least some of the savings in detention costs that INS could
realize by processing more criminal aliens through the IHP would be
offset by any additional funding that might be required to provide
additional resources for the IHP. 


MAJOR CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS REPORT
========================================================= Appendix VII

GENERAL GOVERNMENT DIVISION,
WASHINGTON, D.C. 

Evi L.  Rezmovic, Assistant Director
Linda R.  Watson, Evaluator-in-Charge
Brenda I.  Rabinowitz, Senior Evaluator
David P.  Alexander, Senior Social Science Analyst
Bonita J.  Vines, Senior Computer Specialist
Barry L.  Reed, Senior Social Science Analyst
James M.  Fields, Senior Social Science Analyst
Joanne D.  Meikle, Senior Social Science Analyst
Charlotte A.  Moore, Communications Analyst

OFFICE OF THE GENERAL COUNSEL

Jan B.  Montgomery, Assistant General Counsel


*** End of document. ***