According to commentary in the Huffington Post, the next wave of nonviolent offenders to flood the federal prison system will likely be undocumented immigrants. The recent policy announced by the Department of Justice promises a letup in nonviolent drug prosecutions and sentencing policies, both here in California and nationwide. At the same time, however, the government has stepped up its nearly decade-long immigration policy that’s designed to put undocumented immigrants in prison rather than deporting them.
The growth in immigration imprisonments began with the Bush administration in 2005. People caught coming across the border were charged, prosecuted and given prison sentences up to 10 years instead of being deported. It was a fundamental policy change. Thus the immigrant violator is targeted to increase dramatically in order to fill out any gaps created by the departing drug offender.
This year, more than 60 percent of all federal criminal convictions are immigration-related, according to federal data. It’s a momentous shift from the war on drugs. Furthermore, future immigration reform legislation, in whatever form it takes, will always contain draconian measures to beef-up border patrols, and to mete out heavy sentences to satisfy conservative political elements.
The director of a nonprofit called Justice Strategies says that the private prison industry has a personal stake in seeing the incarceration of undocumented immigrants. She asserts that the drug war is now the war against undocumented aliens. Furthermore, the economies of the federal private prison market are increasingly tied to the federal immigration prisoner. Also, the director of a criminal justice advocacy group called Grassroots Leadership claims that growth of immigrant prosecutions is outstripping the decline in the war on drugs, thereby preventing a reduction in federal prison populations.
In California and countrywide, the new illogical policy is replacing a departing illogical policy regarding federal prosecutorial policy. Federal prosecutors brought nearly four times more immigration prosecutions last year than a decade ago, according to federal statistics compiled at Syracuse University. The bottom line is that the prison system, including the private prisons growing fat on lucrative federal contracts, will continue to thrive economically but now they will do it with the blood and tears of those caught in the ugly web of a misplaced immigration policy.
Source: Huffington Post, War On Undocumented Immigrants Threatens To Swell U.S. Prison Population, Chris Kirkham, Aug. 23, 2013