The Role of Deportation in the Incarceration of Immigrants
Using data on all new admissions to California state prisons in 1986, 1990, and 1996, we find that the foreign born have a very different offense mix from native-born inmates, with foreigners much more likely to be serving time for drug offenses. We document and discuss many of the substantial changes in the enforcement environment over this period, including the war on drugs, changes in public law expanding the classes eligible for deportation, and increases in the level of resources appropriated for enforcement activities targeting deportable aliens. These developments have resulted in much greater attention by the Immigration and Naturalization Service to the incarceration of the foreign born. By 1996, the definition of deportable' was such that it covered essentially all noncitizens in the California prison system. Throughout the period, those foreign-born inmates designated by the California Department of Corrections to be released to INS custody serve substantially (6-12 percent) longer terms (conditional upon sentence length) than natives or other similar' foreigners. These longer terms of incarceration impose substantial costs on the state.