The Departments of Justice and Homeland Security (DOJ/DHS) will be publishing a quarterly report on immigrant incarceration in federal prisons because of an Executive Order issued by President Trump last year. The most recent report found that 20 percent of all inmates in federal prison are foreign-born and about 93 percent of them are likely illegal immigrants. Since immigrants are only about 13.5 percent of the population and illegal immigrants are only about a quarter of all immigrants, many are misreading it and coming away with the impression that foreign-born people are more crime-prone than natives.
That is simply not true.
This new DOJ/DHS report only includes those incarcerated in federal prisons, which is not a representative sample of all incarcerated persons in the United States. Federal prisons include a higher percentage of foreign-born prisoners than state and local correctional facilities because violations of immigration and smuggling laws are federal offenses and violators of those laws are incarcerated in federal prisons.
The report itself almost admits as much with this important disclaimer:
This report does not include data on the alien populations in state prisons and local jails because state and local facilities do not routinely provide DHS or DOJ with comprehensive information about their inmates and detainees—which account for approximately 90 percent of the total U.S. incarcerated population.