Eunice Moscoso, Austin American-Statesman, May 6, 2008
The United States is facing a major obstacle in its efforts to deport thousands of illegal immigrants, including many convicted felons: Their home countries don’t want them back.
[Sen. Arlen] Specter was stunned at the situation after touring several prisons in his home state of Pennsylvania, where taxpayer dollars are paying to house foreigners who have served their sentences but could not be deported. In response, he drafted legislation that would punish countries that refuse to take back illegal immigrants.
He noted that once convicted felons serve their sentences in the U.S., they can be held for only six months before they are released into the general public.
The proposed legislation would require the Department of Homeland Security to report to Congress every 90 days on the countries that refuse repatriation. Those nations would automatically be denied all immigrant visas until they take their citizens back. The measure would also deny certain foreign aid to the countries.
As of February, at least eight countries were refusing to take back 139,000 illegal immigrants the U.S. has ordered deported, according to Specter’s office: Vietnam, Jamaica, China, India, Ethiopia, Laos, Eritrea and Iran. They include 18,000 convicted felons.