Just when you thought there was no good news around comes an announcement by federal authorities that they plan to increase the deportation of 200,000 immigrants in American prisons and jails. This new effort is designed to help reduce the cost of housing immigrant criminals here on the federal, state and local levels. And it marks a substantial increase from the 64,000 immigrant criminals deported in 2006.
Here's something astounding however. Our federal budget was approved to fund $200 million for programs to deport immigrant criminals. We hold them in temporary detention centers first and then we fly them to their country of origin. And yes, we pay the tab for all of this.
Very quietly for some unknown reason, the Bush administration has done a substantial turnaround on this topic. After failing to gain support for an "amnesty" bill last year, the feds now are speeding up the process of deportation of that criminal immigrant element in this country. You would have thought the feds would tout the program far and wide but I suspect they feared a loss of Hispanic votes if they announced this "get tough" policy.
There are so many illegal immigrants in American jails that the hearing process they are afforded by the law is backlogged for months and months. But the feds now hope to streamline these proceedings and get the immigrant criminals out of this country. Only time will tell if the process is in fact working.
At the same time, the feds this week announced a renewed crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants. They acknowledge that in the past, the emphasis has been on arresting the illegal immigrants and not those for whom they work. That apparently is about to change.
Last year the feds collected $30 million in fines from those who hire illegal workers. But fewer than 100 employers were arrested. And with all of the raids on work sites where illegal immigrants are employed, just over 4,000 were arrested. That seems like a lot of effort for a little return.
In truth, it's far past time that the feds began an aggressive deportation program. But we'll accept this change with open arms. We can no longer afford to house hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants in this country. And that cost is calculated in far more than simply financial terms.