Texas wants to save hundreds of millions of dollars by deporting thousands of foreign inmates from its prisons who are up for parole. However, state officials have a major concern - that federal officials won't deport paroled convicts, but will instead set them free.
"We're concerned that they're not deported and they're just released to the street," said Parole Board Chairwoman Rissie Owens of Huntsville.
"We hear horror stories."
Tensions between Texas and federal officials over immigration issues were highlighted on Thursday in an article by Mike Ward in the Austin-American Statesman
. It provided eye-opening insights into the negative impact of foreign criminal elements - most from Mexico - on the state. It also suggested that Texas officials, despite assurances from federal officials, have legitimate doubts that immigration officials can be trusted to deport inmates who, starting on Sept. 1, could be paroled - provided they're subsequently deported to their home countries.
About 11,500 of Texas' 156,000 prisoners are foreign citizens -- and about 6,000 have deportation orders pending against them, the Statesman noted.
Regarding crimes committed by illegal immigrants held in Texas prisons, the newspaper stated:
"Most - more than 8,500 - were Mexican citizens, according to the report."
"According to prison system statistics, some 6,727 of the 11,395 Texas convicts who claimed foreign citizenship in the summer of 2010 were incarcerated for violent crimes, 955 for property crimes, 1,667 for drug crimes and 2,046 for "other" crimes including escape, weapons charges, drunken driving and minor sex offenses.
Regarding the cost to imprison foreign inmates, the Statesman stated:
"A white paper circulated by state Sen. Eddie Lucio, D-Brownsville, asserted that the state could save as much as $100 million annually if as many as 5,000 foreigners were removed from state prisons and deported. The state spends about $3 billion a year operating the state's 112 prisons and related programs.
"If all 11,000 foreign convicts were removed from Texas' prisons, the state could save more than $213 million."
If large numbers of deportations get underway, expect the usual outcries from the ACLU, Hispanic ethnic lobbies, and immigrant-rights groups.
They shouldn't waste their breath. After all, many of inmates deported back to Mexico and Central America will no doubt quickly find their way back to the land of milk and honey -- where the pickings are far easier than in their own countries. And who knows, many might even qualify for work permits and residency status, thanks to the Obama administration's open-borders immigration policies.