WASHINGTON (CN) – The Justice Department is speeding up the process of deporting prisoners who were in the country illegally when they committed a crime, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced.
The program, called the Institutional Hearing Program, starts immigration removal proceedings while the prisoner is still serving his sentence, instead of sending them to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center or back home first.
Under the program, which was created in 1983, immigration judges either come to a prison in person or hold proceedings via video teleconference to determine whether an undocumented inmate should be deported immediately or after finishing his sentence.
Sessions announced Thursday that he is expanding the program to 20 prisons, 14 of which are maintained by the federal government, while the remaining six are overseen by private contractors.
The attorney general says the process will speed up deportations and cut costs.
“We owe it to the American people to ensure that illegal aliens who have been convicted of crimes and are serving time in our federal prisons are expeditiously removed from our country as the law requires,” Sessions said in a written statement. “This expansion and modernization of the Institutional Hearing Program gives us the tools to continue making Americans safe again in their communities.”