Nearly 200 illegal immigrant inmates transferred from Oklahoma custody
Nearly a year after the Oklahoma Criminal Illegal Alien Rapid Repatriation Act went into effect, 185 immigrant inmates serving time in state custody have been handed over to federal officials and deported. So far, eight have returned.
The Oklahoma Criminal Alien Rapid Repatriation Act
The Oklahoma Criminal Alien Rapid Repatriation Act was introduced by Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, in 2009. Sen. Anthony Sykes, R-Moore, was the primary author in the Senate.
Much of the law mirrors language written by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for the federal rapid repatriation program. A federal version of the program began in 2007 and five states have agreements with federal immigration officials to identify and repatriate incarcerated criminals.
Oklahoma's program is a state-run program and not a part of the federal rapid repatriation program.
SOURCE: OKLAHOMA LEGISLATURE AND U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT
Incarceration of illegal immigrants
$19,798: Average annual prison cost per offender.
$1,634: Average annual amount paid per offender by the federal government to help offset the cost of illegal immigrant inmates.
$3.36 million: Approximate amount saved during first year of repatriation act.
$462 million: State Corrections Department fiscal year 2010 budget.
SOURCE: STATE CRIMINAL ALIEN ASSISTANCE PROGRAM FUNDS, OKLAHOMA CORRECTIONS DEPARTMENT
Most individuals deported under the state's rapid repatriation program had been convicted of drug and alcohol offenses.
There are 136 inmates awaiting pickup and removal by federal officials.
Eligible inmates must have served a third of their sentence and have a deportation order issued by a federal immigration judge.
They cannot be serving time for violent crimes, such as murder and first-degree rape, which require 85 percent of their sentence be served.
"If they're nonviolent, this is a great program that can get criminals out of the state and into federal custody," said Douglas Stump, an Oklahoma City immigration attorney and second vice president for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
Violent criminals who plead to a lesser charge could be eligible for deportation under the law.
Criminals who were previously convicted of violent crimes but served those sentences could be as well.
Pedro Tavares, 51, who was serving time on a drug conviction but had previously served his sentence on a second-degree murder conviction, was deported last year and arrested two months later near Laredo, Texas.
Miguel Pu, 22, was serving time for rape by instrumentation, not considered a violent crime, when he was deported to Guatemala last year and arrested five months later in Arizona.