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  1. #1
    Senior Member Dixie's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    Texas - Occupied State - The Front Line

    MI State Looking to Dump Foreign Prisoners

    State Looking to Dump Foreign Prisoners

    Posted: 10:48 PM Apr 17, 2009

    Some lawmakers don't understand why cash-strapped Michigan is keeping foreign criminals behind bars rather than shipping them off to the federal government for deportation.

    Legislation sponsored by state Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith would let state inmates with deportation orders be moved to federal custody after serving half their minimum sentence. A House subcommittee is scheduled to vote on the measure Tuesday.

    "Why should our taxpayers be paying for the care, housing and feeding of prisoners for whom the federal government has papers sending them home?" asked Smith, a Democrat from Washtenaw County's Salem Township who has launched a 2010 gubernatorial bid.

    Michigan now requires all prisoners to serve their minimum term before being considered for release.

    Smith's bill would relax the law so immigrant inmates -- those here illegally or whose conviction requires deportation -- are turned over to federal authorities earlier. Murderers, rapists and habitual offenders couldn't be sent to the federal prison system for deportation until they had served their minimum sentences.

    The measure has run into resistance from GOP lawmakers who worry that everything from fairness issues to the complexities of immigration law may make it unworkable.

    Rep. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, said it's unfair to release foreign nationals early when Americans in the state's prisons have to serve their minimum sentences.

    "What is the response by the victims and their families who now see justice denied by one-half?" he asked.

    Another Republican, Sen. Alan Cropsey of DeWitt, said some inmates deported previously have returned to commit more crimes. He looked into the issue of sending foreign criminals home a few years ago and said he encountered problems. Some countries refuse to take back criminals while others limit how many they will accept, he said.

    He cited one example where the Michigan Department of Corrections spent a year trying to get two Germans deported.

    "It's not as simple as what some people try to make it out to be," he said. "It's almost impossible to get sent back to Cuba."

    As of March, Michigan had 156 inmates with final deportation orders who could be freed immediately to be shipped home by the federal government if Smith's legislation is approved, her office said. Sixty-six were from Mexico, 17 from Cuba and 11 from Iraq.

    Another 55 prisoners had no deportation orders yet and are foreign nationals or their citizenship is unknown. Hundreds of other foreign nationals are serving time for murder or criminal sexual conduct, were sentenced as habitual offenders or have not gotten halfway through their sentence, so would be ineligible for the switch.

    The savings under the bill -- up to $9 million, according to Smith -- would be a relatively small portion of Michigan's $2 billion annual corrections budget. Foreign nationals make up a fraction of the state's 48,000 inmates.

    But with budget deficits mounting because of the bad economy, backers argue cuts must be made. They also say the legislation would protect public safety by exempting the most dangerous felons from being released early.

    The legislation is modeled after programs in New York, Arizona and -- most recently -- Rhode Island. The states work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, to identify and deport convicts if their offenses are considered nonviolent. The governors of Washington and New Hampshire recently pitched similar plans.

    ICE says New York has saved $140 million since 1995 through its criminal deportation program. Arizona has saved $18 million in detention costs since 2005. The U.S. removed more than 114,000 criminals from the country in the past fiscal year.

    Under the Michigan measure, inmates who are deported and later found to have returned to the U.S. illegally would be locked up again and have to serve the remainder of their sentence. They also could face up to 20 years in prison for illegally re-entering the country.

    Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration supports the bill. Corrections spokesman Russ Marlan said the department already works with ICE to deport inmates when they finish their term or are paroled.

    Barbara Levine, executive director of the Citizens Alliance on Prisons and Public Spending, said the legislation also should require the parole of all prisoners with valid deportation orders who have served their minimum term.

    She said a German national has been denied parole at least six times because he won't admit he sexually assaulted his wife. Michigan taxpayers should no longer be paying to incarcerate the man who has served 10 years and wants to return to Germany, Levine said.

    "The question in times of severe budget concerns is identifying who would not be a threat to the public in Michigan," she said.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member WorriedAmerican's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    Re: MI State Looking to Dump Foreign Prisoners

    We wouldn't want to follow the rules on the books already.
    If Palestine puts down their guns, there will be peace.
    If Israel puts down their guns there will be no more Israel.
    Dick Morris

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