Hispanic Prisoner Population Swells Due to Immigration Offenses

Immigration enforcement policies have changed inmate demographics at federal prisons, according to a recently released U.S. Sentencing Commission report.

Hispanics accounted for 50.3 percent of all felons convicted between October 2010, and June 2011, according to the commission. The report identified 26.4 percent of offenders as white, 19.7 percent as black and 3.5 percent as another race.

Despite accounting for more than half of all prisoners, there were only two crime categories – national defense and immigration – for which Hispanics accounted for more than half of offenders.

Of 55 individuals convicted for a national defense related crime, 28 were Hispanic, representing 50.9 percent of this criminal category. Most convicted Hispanics were brought up on an immigration charge, which was also the most common felony charge between October and June. Of 56,556 convictions, 18,954 were for immigration crimes. Of these offenders, 16,964, or 89.5 percent, were Hispanic.

“Statistics like this have to start drawing attention to this country’s immigration policies and what we’re doing, if this is one of the results,” Fordham University Law School professor Deborah Denno told The Associated Press.

Texas Governor Rick Perry recently requested that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security reimburse the Lone Star State $350 million to cover expenses for jailing undocumented immigrants. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she understands border states face special burdens related to immigration enforcement, but Congress, not the executive branch, is responsible for allocating the requested funds.