All the political signs and signals in Washington point away from immigration reform in the year to come. Plenty in Congress argue that it’s of vital necessity, but just as many voices agree that it’s not possible for the moment. Politically, it’s a divisive topic just prior to elections, splitting even internally within parties. Plus, while immigration is a major problem, electorates are more concerned with the economy and joblessness, meaning Congress will likely be looking at more economic policies, or in the case of Democrats, focusing on more locally relevant topics.
Elections also pose a problem in that both parties are likely hoping for a more favorable split post mid-terms before putting immigration bills to a vote. President Barack Obama recently put off a review of the immigration system in order to give Congress a few extra months to pass a bill, but it’s difficult not to be skeptical. While legislative action is looking very unlikely, the problems that stem from America’s illegal immigration population are still kicking. Here is a look at three very concerning immigration predicaments that will continue on behind the scenes in the U.S. while political focus is elsewhere.
1. Crime, Imprisonment, and Drugs
According to Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm, 82 percent of the 133,551 individuals removed from inside the U.S. for illegal entrance had been convicted of a crime in the past. Most of those caught and deported within the U.S. were notably only level 1 or level 2 offenders, 72 percent in fact. Level 1 offenders are “those aliens convicted of ‘aggravated felonies’,” meaning those crimes that could be punished with over a year imprisonment. Level 3 offenders are those who are convicted of a misdemeanor — more commonly seen among those deported from border areas. Forty-eight percent of “interior criminal removals” were from level 1 individuals, and 24 percent level 2, while 28 percent had been convicted of level 3 crimes. That 28 percent accounts for nearly 31 thousand individuals, however, a concerning number when measured up against President Barack Obama’s promise to go after immigrants with criminal backgrounds, as running stop lights is likely not what he meant. Of those 30,977 with level 3 crimes, 17,547 had records with prior removals and 2,076 were fugitives.
The 2012 Immigration Enforcement Actions Annual Report published in December of 2013 showed a record breaking high of illegal aliens put in detention facilities in 2012, an additional expense for the U.S. government apart from deportations. In total, 477,523 aliens were held in 2012, up 11 percent from the year before. Of those, 64 percent were Mexican nationals, 11 percent were from Guatemala, 8.5 percent from Honduras, and 6.6 percent from El Salvador. The report also stated that, “The most common categories of crime were immigration-related offenses, criminal traffic offenses, and dangerous drugs,” and stated that offenses in general saw a 26 percent rise between 2011 and 2012.