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More Undocumented Immigrants Are Being Sent to Prison

Written By The Shapiro Law Group on September 24, 2013

Undocumented immigrants make up the fastest growing segment of the federal prison population. Of the more than 60,000 people convicted of immigration crimes this year, most have been entered (or re-entered) the country without authorization, and are not part of the segment of the justice system awaiting deportation due to criminal immigration violations.

Since 2005, the government has been cracking down on immigration offenses, and prosecutors are often moving to charge violators with illegal entry or re-entry offenses, rather than deporting the offenders. Individuals who are convicted of illegal entry or illegal re-entry can face between six months and 10 years in prison, depending on whether they have a past criminal history.

Immigrants are currently the third-highest category of offenders, making up 11 percent of the federal prison population. However, according to federal data, more than 60 percent of all federal criminal convictions to date this year have been for immigration-related crimes – a significant shift from a decade ago when drug violations were the most common federal charge.

Most disturbing, perhaps, is that immigration offenders are serving as a “lucrative market for private prison corporations” that largely control immigration inmates in the system, with revenue over the past decade from the federal prison system more than tripling for the GEO Group and nearly doubling for Corrections Corp. of America – the two corporations that dominate the private prison industry.

As this article points out, the expanding federal prison population has meant steady business for the two largest U.S. private prison corporations, especially since the number of state inmates has begun to decline.  Last year, Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) derived 30 percent of its revenue – a total of $546 million – from federal contracts with the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau of Prisons, and the GEO Group received more than 25 percent of its revenue – a total of $384 million – from those two agencies.

With profits at stake, some private prisons have taken matters into their own hands. An Associated Press article indicates that, at the federal level alone, CCA and GEO, along with their political action committees and their employees, have spent more than $32 million on lobbying and on campaign contributions since 2000.

The Chicago immigration lawyers at the Shapiro Law Group are dedicated to helping foreign nationals comply with U.S. immigration laws by obtaining the appropriate work-related visas or family-sponsored visas. We also help immigrants with re-entry permits, and are committed to defending those individuals who are facing deportation. We guide clients through the entire visa process – from visa application submission to the interview process and compliance with visa requirements. If you are a foreign national who wants to obtain a visa or you are facing deportation, do not hesitate to contact us at (847)564-0712 to speak with an experienced and qualified Illinois immigration attorney.