The prison reform bill endorsed by Pres. Trump on Wednesday and likely to come to the House and Senate floors during the lame duck session could allow criminal aliens, including convicted cartel and gang members, to receive early release from prison.
The House-passed version of the legislation allows the Bureau of Prisons to release certain criminals back onto the streets if they earn enough good time credits. The legislation does not prevent criminal aliens in federal prisons from being released early.
However, the Senate version of the legislation does include language that attempts to prevent criminal aliens from being released.
(E) DEPORTABLE PRISONERS INELIGIBLE TO APPLY TIME CREDITS.—
(i) IN GENERAL.—A prisoner is ineligible to apply time credits under (C) if the prisoner is the subject of a final order of removal under the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.).
(ii) PROCEEDINGS.—The Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall ensure that all aliens described in sections 212 and 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182, 1227) who seek to earn credits are subject to proceedings described in section 238(a) of that Act (8 U.S.C. 1228(a)) at a date as early as practicable during the prisoner's incarceration.
But as Dan Cadman from the Center for Immigration Studies explains, the provision alone isn't enough to prevent criminal aliens from being set free:
The language fails on two counts:
First, until the final order is obtained, they [criminal aliens] continue accruing that good time. Consider that such proceedings, conducted under the Institutional Hearing Program, are dependent on the availability of immigration judges, plus the time and money to send them on such details. To be cost-effective for BOP, for the judges, and for Homeland Security agents, this means lining up a host of such hearings at a single time. Thus, Institutional Hearing Program (IHP) proceedings may only take place every several months. The language also doesn't take into account that an alien may seek judicial review of the immigration judge's order in a federal circuit court of appeal. Even if the appeal is frivolous, until it's disposed of, the removal order isn't final and the alien continues to accrue good time credits.
Second, consider that the language prohibiting participation in time-reduction programs (which is admittedly technical) only applies to aliens who are being charged as removable for certain crimes. Ironically, those crimes don't include aliens in prison for some immigration offenses — such as individuals who have repeatedly reentered the United States after having been removed. What sense does it make to incentivize more future illegal reentries by reducing their sentences for participating in "recidivism reduction" programs when they've already shown themselves to be recidivists and scofflaws?
Updated: Thu, Nov 29th 2018 @ 9:50am EST