Building on a precedent-setting initiative to deport non-violent foreign prisoners, Gov. Lawton Chiles is expected to announce an agreement today with the federal government to deport aliens before their cases go to trial.
The state reached an agreement earlier this year with the U.S. government to deport illegal immigrants from its state prisons. The criminals received clemency in exchange for agreeing to be deported and not return.
At today's scheduled news conference, Chiles is to be joined by Doris Meissner, commissioner of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, and others.
The latest agreement would give prosecutors another option for foreigners facing prison time who agree to be deported, said Ron Sachs, spokesman for Chiles.
"There is nothing like it anywhere in the country," he said.
Sachs said the newest deportation plan and the current program save taxpayers the cost of taking care of prisoners and free up prison space.
So far, about 165 illegal immigrants, mostly drug traffickers, have been approved for deportation. The state wants to deport 500 imprisoned aliens this year for an estimated savings of $7.5-million.
The Democratic governor, who is up for re-election Nov. 8, believes the program will keep violent prisoners behind bars longer and save Florida from having to build two more prisons. The 2,700 criminal aliens locked up in Florida cost the state about $60-million a year.
Corey Tilley, a spokesman for Republican gubernatorial nominee Jeb Bush, called Chiles' announcement a "political stunt to make people forget about the last four years."
"The governor has been a complete failure on crime," Tilley said. _ Staff writer Bill Moss and the Associated Press contributed to this report.