PROVIDENCE - Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Julie L. Myers and Rhode Island Department of Corrections Director Ashbel T. Wall II have signed a partnership agreement that will assist in ensuring that aliens serving criminal sentences for non-violent offenses are identified and processed for removal prior to their release from state custody.
"ICE must work closely with our law enforcement partners to aggressively identify and remove criminal aliens. Rapid REPAT not only speeds the removal of deportable non-violent criminals from the United States, but can also save taxpayers millions of dollars each year," said Assistant Secretary Myers. "When law enforcement agencies work together, the public benefits. This agreement shows the governor's commitment to better protect Rhode Islanders' safety."
The MOU represents a step forward in Governor Carcieri's Executive Order on Immigration. The Executive Order directs the Parole Board and the Department of Corrections to work cooperatively with ICE personnel to provide for the parole and deportation of criminal aliens.
"Rhode Island cannot afford to repeatedly bear the financial burden of providing housing and rehabilitative treatment to inmates who committed crimes while here illegally," said Governor Carcieri. "With this partnership, ICE will become engaged in the process early on and provide the Department of Corrections and the Parole Board with pertinent information on illegal immigrant inmates prior to their parole eligibility date, speeding up the deportation by getting these inmates back to their respective countries in a more timely fashion."
The agreement, called Rapid REPAT (Removal of Eligible Parolees Accepted for Transfer), is part of ICE ACCESS (Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security), the umbrella of services that provide local law enforcement agencies opportunities to team with ICE to combat specific public safety challenges.
Under Rapid REPAT, certain aliens who are incarcerated in state prison and who have been convicted of non-violent offenses may receive early conditional release if they have a final order of removal and agree not to return to the United States. Only aliens convicted of non-violent offenses are eligible for the program and they must cooperate fully throughout the removal process. If an alien re-enters the United States after being removed under this program, state statutes may provide for revocation of parole and confinement for the remainder of the alien's original sentence. Additionally, aliens may be prosecuted under federal statutes that provide for up to 20 years in prison for illegally reentering the United States.
This is the second Rapid REPAT agreement ICE has signed. The first was with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico signed in July. Rapid REPAT was modeled after two programs in the states of New York and Arizona that capitalize on ICE's ability to more effectively identify and ultimately remove criminal aliens from the United States while still preserving the integrity of the criminal justice system.
Corrections Director Wall notes, "The Corrections Department is pleased to do its part in facilitating the deportation of illegal inmates who have broken the laws of our state."