“Criminal aliens’ first contact with the INS now usually comes while they are incarcerated in a state prison. Through an enhanced Institutional Hearing Program (IHP), states cooperate with the INS to commence deportation proceedings for foreign-born inmates before they get out of prison… As the Institutional Hearing Program becomes more effective, state prison systems increasingly are releasing foreign-born offenders directly to the custody of the INS. This process ensures that many more criminal aliens are removed from the country. It also might motivate states to release inmates who would otherwise remain incarcerated in exchange for immediate deportation.
Criminal aliens who have been sentenced to a term of incarceration in the United States cannot be removed by the INS until they are released from prison. But the new immigration law explicitly authorizes the INS to deport nonviolent offenders who are not otherwise eligible for release from incarceration when early removal ‘is appropriate and in the best interest’ of the United States or the state where the alien is incarcerated.”1998