COVINGTON -- State Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, is sponsoring a bill that would allow illegal immigrants who have been convicted of a crime to be voluntarily deported upon eligibility for parole.
Senate Bill 136, also known as the Repatriation Bill, would get the state in line with a federal program that Gwinnett County is already participating in, Douglas said. Gwinnett has sent more than 900 illegal immigrants back to their home countries as a result, he said.
"They can't do it until they're eligible for parole. They don't lose any time in prison if they need to serve. They could volunteer to be sent back home to their country and the state would turn them over to the federal government for deportation," Douglas said.
"But there's no guarantee that when they become eligible for parole they will be paroled. So they could get out of jail a little earlier (through deportation). This way, they get a one-way ticket home by doing it," he said.
The bill charges the Department of Corrections and the state Board of Pardons and Paroles with establishing a process and agreements among multiple state, local and federal agencies for the implementation of the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Rapid Removal of Eligible Parolees Accepted for Transfer Program, also known as REPAT, or a similar federal program.
The Department of Corrections would coordinate with federal authorities to determine immigration status and eligibility for removal. Once accepted into the deportation program, the state Board of Pardons and Paroles would establish a
tentative release date for the alien to be transferred into federal custody.
The board would provide notice and obtain acknowledgment in writing that notice was given to each alien who is eligible that illegal re-entry into the United States would require the return to the custody of the Department of Corrections to complete the remainder of his or her court-imposed sentence.
Prior to granting parole conditioned on deportation, the alien would have to waive all rights of extradition and to a parole revocation hearing. If convicted of another offense in Georgia, the alien would be required to serve the remainder of his or her sentence without parole.
The bill was carried over from the 2009 session. It has passed the Senate and is in the House Judiciary Committee. Douglas said he expects it to go before the House for a vote within the next week or two.
"It's important to get these illegal aliens who have other crimes off the taxpayers' payroll and send them home," he said. "Taxpayers here shouldn't be asked to support them when they've broken two or more laws, one by being here illegally and the other, whatever they're in jail for."