Texas prisons have begun implementing a new Obama administration policy to check the immigration status of all incoming prisoners processed, reports The Houston Chronicle.
Texas prisons are test-driving the Obama administration’s planned nationwide immigration screening and are relaying for the first time the digital fingerprints of roughly 1,500 arriving inmates each week to the Department of Homeland Security.
The statewide screening at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s 24 facilities will likely extend to the nation’s 1,200 state and federal prisons and 3,100 local jails during President Barack Obama’s first term — all part of a high profile crackdown on criminal aliens who have committed serious crimes such as major drug offenses, murder, rape, robbery and kidnapping while living illegally inside the United States.
California is expected to be the next state to begin screening all incoming inmates to identify illegal immigrants.
Texas will also soon begin screening the rest of its 155,000 inmates to discover who is in the United States illegally, Michelle Lyons, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told the Chronicle.
The policy is one more example of the Obama's administration shift away from finding and deporting law-abiding illegal immigrants. At the end of April, the Department of Homeland Security issued new guidelines to its Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices that called on agents to target for prosecution U.S. employers that knowingly recruit and hire illegal labor rather than the illegal workers themselves.
The new policy being tested within Texas prisons, the Chronicle reports, will make it faster and easier to deport illegal immigrants that commit serious crimes once they have finished serving their prison sentence.
According to the paper, 450,000 criminal aliens currently reside in federal, state, and local prisons.
♦ Photo by Publik15/Flickr