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The INS Escort of Criminal Aliens
Report Number I-2001-005
June 2001


The Office of the Inspector General, Evaluation and Inspections Division, conducted a review of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) practice of escorting criminal aliens on commercial airlines when the aliens are removed from the United States to non-border countries. In FY 1998, the INS established escort standards providing guidance for INS officers in escorting dangerous aliens who the INS removes from the United States on commercial airlines.

In FY 1999 and FY 2000, the INS removed 139,000 criminal aliens of which the most dangerous segment totaled 30,000 criminal aliens. These 30,000 aliens were involved in homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, assault, arson, extortion, sex offenses, and weapon offenses. Approximately 21,000 of these 30,000 criminal illegal aliens were Mexican nationals who were removed primarily on INS buses. Of the remaining 9,000, we estimated that 80 percent were removed by commercial airlines to non-border countries. Our review focused on that 80 percent.

We found that the INS is placing the traveling public at potential risk because it does not consistently follow its own escort policy. In three of the four districts we visited, INS supervisory field officials clearly disregarded provisions of the INS escort standard, resulting in the removal of violent aliens without escorts on commercial airlines. In addition, some dangerous aliens were not identified by the INS during the routine pre-removal alien file review process. Field officials often failed to provide the required ratio of escorts to dangerous aliens. Further, the INS escort standard fails to require escorts for certain types of aliens who may pose a danger to the public. Additionally, the INS does not adequately coordinate the escort process with the Department of State.

The report contains recommendations to improve field adherence to INS escort standards, to revise and improve these standards, and to correct the lack of coordination among the INS, the Department of State, and foreign countries in the escort process.