Departments of Justice and Homeland Security Release Data on Incarcerated Aliens

94 Percent of All Confirmed Aliens in Department of Justice Custody Are Unlawfully Present

Today, the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security released the Alien Incarceration Report for Fiscal Year 2019.  The data shows that 94 percent of confirmed aliens incarcerated in Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and United States Marshals Service (USMS) facilities were unlawfully present in the United States.  Additionally, the report found that nearly 70 percent of known or suspected aliens in BOP custody had been convicted of a non-immigration-related offense, and 39 percent of known or suspected aliens in USMS custody had committed a non-immigration-related offense.

In January 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order on Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States, directing “the Secretary [of Homeland Security] and the Attorney General … to collect relevant data and provide quarterly reports on the following: (a) the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated under the supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons; (b) the immigration status of all aliens incarcerated as Federal pretrial detainees under the supervision of the United States Marshals Service; and (c) the immigration status of all convicted aliens incarcerated in State prisons and local detention centers throughout the United States.”

At the end of FY 2019, a total of 51,074 known or suspected aliens were in Department of Justice custody, with 27,494 known or suspected aliens in BOP facilities and 23,580 known or suspected aliens in USMS facilities.  Of those 51,074 known or suspected aliens, 27,266 individuals (53.4 percent) had been confirmed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to be aliens who had orders of removal or who had agreed to depart voluntarily.  18,308 individuals (35.8 percent) were still under investigation by ICE to determine alienage, 3,691 individuals (7.2 percent) were illegal aliens who were under adjudication, and 936 individuals (1.8 percent) were legal aliens who were under adjudication.  873 individuals (1.7 percent) were aliens who had been granted relief or protection from removal.

By the end of FY 2019, the USMS had directly expended $162 million to house the 23,580 known or suspected aliens remanded to their custody in state, local, and private facilities.  The average cost to house noncitizens in these facilities is $88.19 per prisoner, per day.

Information Regarding Immigration Status of Aliens Incarcerated Under the Supervision of the Federal Bureau of Prisons

At the end of FY 2019, a total of 27,494 known or suspected aliens were in BOP custody.  Of those individuals, approximately 72 percent had been confirmed to be illegal aliens.

  • 16,970 individuals (61.7 percent) were unauthorized aliens and had orders of removal;
  • 2,797 individuals (10.2 percent) were unlawfully present and in removal proceedings;
  • 6,120 individuals (22.3 percent) were under investigation to determine alienage;
  • 830 individuals (3 percent) were lawfully present and in removal proceedings; and
  • 777 individuals (2.8 percent) were granted relief or protection from removal.

Of the 27,494 known or suspected aliens in BOP custody, 27,125 had been convicted of an offense (369 inmates were in pretrial status).  Of those 27,125 individuals:

  • 13,727 individuals (51 percent) had committed drug offenses;
  • 8,403 individuals (approximately 31 percent) had committed immigration offenses;
  • 1,380 individuals (5.1 percent) had committed fraud;
  • 1,086 individuals (4 percent) had committed weapons offenses;
  • 1,007 individuals (3.7 percent) had committed racketeering and continuing criminal enterprise offenses (including murder for hire);
  • 553 individuals (2 percent) had committed sex offenses; and
  • 969 individuals (3.6 percent) had committed offenses including kidnapping, murder, larceny, terrorism, escape, bribery and extortion, and rape.

Information Regarding the Immigration Status of Aliens Incarcerated as Federal Pretrial Detainees

At the end of FY 2019, a total of 63,725 individuals were in USMS custody.  Of those 63,725 individuals, 23,580 individuals (37 percent) were known or suspected aliens.  Of those 23,580 individuals:

  • 10,296 individuals (43.7 percent) were unauthorized aliens and had orders of removal;
  • 894 individuals (3.8 percent) were unlawfully present and in removal proceedings;
  • 12,188 individuals (51.7 percent) were under investigation to determine alienage;
  • 106 individuals (0.4 percent) were lawfully present and in removal proceedings; and
  • 96 individuals (0.4 percent) were granted relief or protection from removal.

Of the 23,580 known or suspected aliens in USMS custody, 22,359 were being held for reasons other than being material witnesses.  Of those 22,359 individuals:

  • 13,662 individuals (61 percent) had committed immigration offenses;
  • 4,833 individuals (21.6 percent) had committed drug offenses;
  • 1,205 individuals (5.4 percent) had violated conditions of supervision;
  • 1,037 individuals (4.6 percent) had committed property offenses;
  • 457 individuals (2 percent) had committed violent offenses;
  • 422 individuals (1.9 percent) had committed weapons offenses; and
  • 743 individuals (3.3 percent) were in USMS custody due to a writ, hold, or transfer, or an unlisted offense.

Immigration Status of All Convicted Aliens Incarcerated in State Prisons and Local Detention Centers Throughout the United States

The departments continue to progress towards establishing data collection of the immigration status of convicted aliens incarcerated in state prisons and local detention centers through the Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics.

BJS annually collects aggregate numbers of noncitizens in state and federal prisons through the National Prisoner Statistics (NPS) program.  The most recent counts, released in April 2019, were from December 31, 2017.  According to Prisoners in 2017, data from 45 states shows that an estimated 69,300 non-U.S. citizens were held in public and private state prison facilities at year-end 2017.

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    In U.S GAO News
    As of October 2020, 3 years since the hurricanes destroyed much of Puerto Rico's electricity grid, neither the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) nor the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) had approved long-term grid recovery projects in Puerto Rico. In 2019, GAO made four recommendations to FEMA and HUD to address identified challenges in rebuilding the electricity grid in Puerto Rico. As of October 2020, FEMA had fully implemented one recommendation and partially implemented two others, while HUD had not implemented its recommendation. Specifically, FEMA established an interagency agreement with the Department of Energy (DOE) to clarify how the agencies would consult on recovery efforts. FEMA had taken actions to partially implement recommendations on improving coordination among federal and local agencies and providing information on industry standards. However, further steps are needed, including finalizing guidance on FEMA's process for approving funding for projects. Regarding HUD, it has not addressed GAO's recommendation to establish time frames and requirements for available funding. Damaged Power Lines in Puerto Rico in November 2017 after Hurricane Maria Until HUD and FEMA implement GAO's recommendations, uncertainty will linger about how and when federal funding for long-term grid recovery will proceed. In particular, it is uncertain how available funding sources will support measures to enhance grid resilience to hurricanes, such as smart grid technology. FEMA officials told GAO that additional funding sources could be used for resilience measures but that this would not be determined until specific projects are submitted to FEMA for approval. Moreover, although FEMA finalized a $10 billion cost estimate for grid repairs in September 2020, several steps remain before FEMA approves funding for projects—a process officials said they were drafting. HUD funding could supplement FEMA funding but, as discussed above, HUD has yet to establish conditions for using these funds and has not established time frames and a plan for issuing this information. According to HUD officials, they plan to publish requirements in the first quarter of fiscal year 2021, but this depends on other factors, such as input from other federal agencies. Further delays in publishing the conditions could contribute to delays in Puerto Rico's ability to initiate grid recovery projects. In 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria damaged Puerto Rico's electricity grid, causing the longest blackout in U.S. history. It took roughly 11 months after the hurricanes for power to be restored to all of the customers with structures deemed safe for power restoration. Since electricity service has been restored, local entities have undertaken the longer-term task of more fully repairing and rebuilding the grid. GAO reported in 2019 on challenges hindering progress in rebuilding the grid and recommended that FEMA and HUD take actions to address these challenges. This report examines the status of efforts to support long-term grid recovery in Puerto Rico, including actions taken by FEMA and HUD to implement GAO's 2019 recommendations. For this report, GAO assessed agency actions; reviewed relevant reports, regulations, policies, and documents; and interviewed federal and local officials. GAO previously made three recommendations to FEMA and one to HUD to provide needed information and improve coordination to support grid recovery. Both agencies disagreed with GAO's characterization of their progress made addressing these prior recommendations. GAO continues to believe additional actions are needed to fully implement these recommendations. For more information, contact Frank Rusco at (202) 512-3841 or ruscof@gao.gov.
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  • Indian Health Service: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Federal Facilities’ Decision-Making About the Use of Funds
    In U.S GAO News
    The Indian Health Service's (IHS) oversight of federally operated health care facilities' decision-making process about the use of funds has been limited and inconsistent. Funds include those from appropriations, as well as payments from federal programs, such as Medicaid and from private insurance, for care provided by IHS to American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). While some oversight functions are performed at IHS headquarters, the agency has delegated primary responsibility for the oversight of health care facilities' decision-making about the use of funds to its area offices. Area office officials said the oversight they provide has generally included (1) reviewing facilities' scope of services, and (2) reviewing facilities' proposed expenditures. However, GAO's review found that this oversight was limited and inconsistent across IHS area offices, in part, due to a lack of consistent agency-wide processes. While IHS officials from all nine area offices GAO interviewed said they reviewed facilities' scope of services and coordinated with tribes when doing so, none reported systematically reviewing the extent to which their facilities' services were meeting local health needs, such as by incorporating the results of community health assessments. Such assessments can involve the collection and assessment of data, as well as the input of local community members and leaders to identify and prioritize community needs. These assessments can be used by facilities to assess their resources and identify priorities for facility investment. While IHS has identified such assessments as a priority, the agency does not require federally operated facilities to conduct such assessments or require the area offices to use them as they review facilities' scope of services. To ensure that facilities are effectively managing their resources, IHS has a process to guide its review of facilities' proposed construction projects that cost at least $25,000. However, IHS does not have a similar process to guide its oversight of other key proposed expenditures, such as those involving the purchase of major medical equipment, the hiring of providers, or the expansion of services. Specifically, GAO found limitations and inconsistencies with respect to requiring a documented justification for proposed expenditures; documenting the review and approval of decisions; and conducting an impact assessment on patient access, cost, and quality of care. The limitations and inconsistencies that GAO found in IHS's oversight are driven by the lack of consistent oversight processes across the area offices. Without establishing a systematic oversight process to compare federally operated facilities' current services to population needs, and to guide the review of facilities' proposed expenditures, IHS cannot ensure that its facilities are identifying and investing in projects to meet the greatest community needs, and therefore that federal resources are being maximized to best serve the AI/AN population. IHS, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, provides care to AI/AN populations through a system of federally operated and tribally operated health care facilities. AI/AN have experienced long standing problems accessing needed health care services. GAO has previously reported that IHS has not been able to pay for all eligible health care services; however, the resources available to federally operated facilities have recently grown. This report assesses IHS oversight of federal health care facilities' decision-making about the use of funds. GAO reviewed IHS policies and documents; and interviewed IHS officials from headquarters, nine area offices, and three federally operated facilities (two hospitals and one health clinic). GAO recommends that IHS develop processes to guide area offices in (1) systematically assessing how federally operated facilities will effectively meet the needs of their patient populations, and (2) reviewing federal facilities' spending proposals. HHS concurred with these recommendations. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or farbj@gao.gov.
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    What GAO Found The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established a five-step process for developing and overseeing the implementation of binding operational directives, as authorized by the Federal Information Security Modernization Act of 2014 (FISMA). The process includes DHS coordinating with stakeholders early in the directives' development process and validating agencies' actions on the directives. However, in implementing the process, DHS did not coordinate with stakeholders early in the process and did not consistently validate agencies' self-reported actions. In addition to being a required step in the directives process, FISMA requires DHS to coordinate with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to ensure that the directives do not conflict with existing NIST guidance for federal agencies. However, NIST officials told GAO that DHS often did not reach out to NIST on directives until 1 to 2 weeks before the directives were to be issued, and then did not always incorporate the NIST technical comments. More recently, DHS and NIST have started regular coordination meetings to discuss directive-related issues earlier in the process. Regarding validation of agency actions, DHS has done so for selected directives, but not for others. DHS is not well-positioned to validate all directives because it lacks a risk-based approach as well as a strategy to check selected agency-reported actions to validate their completion. Directives' implementation often has been effective in strengthening federal cybersecurity. For example, a 2015 directive on critical vulnerability mitigation required agencies to address critical vulnerabilities discovered by DHS cyber scans of agencies' internet-accessible systems within 30 days. This was a new requirement for federal agencies. While agencies did not always meet the 30-day requirement, their mitigations were validated by DHS and reached 87 percent compliance by 2017 (see fig. 1). DHS officials attributed the recent decline in percentage completion to a 35-day partial government shutdown in late 2018/early 2019. Nevertheless, for the 4-year period shown in the figure below, agencies mitigated within 30 days about 2,500 of the 3,600 vulnerabilities identified. Figure 1: Critical Vulnerabilities Mitigated within 30 days, May 21, 2015 through May 20, 2019 Agencies also made reported improvements in securing or replacing vulnerable network infrastructure devices. Specifically, a 2016 directive on the Threat to Network Infrastructure Devices addressed, among other things, several urgent vulnerabilities in the targeting of firewalls across federal networks and provided technical mitigation solutions. As shown in figure 2, in response to the directive, agencies reported progress in mitigating risks to more than 11,000 devices as of October 2018. Figure 2: Federal Civilian Agency Vulnerable Network Infrastructure Devices That Had Not Been Mitigated, September 2016 through January 2019 Another key DHS directive is Securing High Value Assets, an initiative to protect the government's most critical information and system assets. According to this directive, DHS is to lead in-depth assessments of federal agencies' most essential identified high value assets. However, an important performance metric for addressing vulnerabilities identified by these assessments does not account for agencies submitting remediation plans in cases where weaknesses cannot be fully addressed within 30 days. Further, DHS only completed about half of the required assessments for the most recent 2 years (61 of 142 for fiscal year 2018, and 73 of 142 required assessments for fiscal year 2019 (see fig. 3)). In addition, DHS does not plan to finalize guidance to agencies and third parties, such as contractors or agency independent assessors, for conducting reviews of additional high value assets that are considered significant, but are not included in DHS's current review, until the end of fiscal year 2020. Given these shortcomings, DHS is now reassessing key aspects of the program. However, it does not have a schedule or plan for completing this reassessment, or to address outstanding issues on completing required assessments, identifying needed resources, and finalizing guidance to agencies and third parties. Figure 3: Department of Homeland Security Assessments of Agency High Value Assets, Fiscal Years (FY) 2018 through 2019 Why GAO Did This Study DHS plays a key role in federal cybersecurity. FISMA authorized DHS, in consultation with the Office of Management and Budget, to develop and oversee the implementation of compulsory directives—referred to as binding operational directives—covering executive branch civilian agencies. These directives require agencies to safeguard federal information and information systems from a known or reasonably suspected information security threat, vulnerability, or risk. Since 2015, DHS has issued eight directives that instructed agencies to, among other things, (1) mitigate critical vulnerabilities discovered by DHS through its scanning of agencies' internet-accessible systems; (2) address urgent vulnerabilities in network infrastructure devices identified by DHS; and (3) better secure the government's highest value and most critical information and system assets. GAO was requested to evaluate DHS's binding operational directives. This report addresses (1) DHS's process for developing and overseeing the implementation of binding operational directives and (2) the effectiveness of the directives, including agencies' implementation of the directive requirements. GAO selected for review the five directives that were in effect as of December 2018, and randomly selected for further in-depth review a sample of 12 agencies from the executive branch civilian agencies to which the directives apply. In addition, GAO reviewed DHS policies and processes related to the directives and assessed them against FISMA and Office of Management and Budget requirements; administered a data collection instrument to selected federal agencies; compared the agencies' responses and supporting documentation to the requirements outlined in the five directives; and collected and analyzed DHS's government-wide scanning data on government-wide implementation of the directives. GAO also interviewed DHS and selected agency officials.
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