Criminal Immigration Prosecutions Are Down, - But Trends Differ by Offense
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Criminal Immigration Prosecutions Are Down, - But Trends Differ by Offense

March 26, 2010, 9:30 am
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Criminal Immigration Prosecutions Are Down - But Trends Differ by Offense
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Washingto, D.C. The rate of criminal immigration prosecutions the government reported during the first three months of FY 2010 is down by 8.8 percent compared to quarterly figures for last year. If the prosecution pace continues at this rate for the rest of FY 2010, the number of criminal prosecutions will reach only 83,722 as compared with 91,899 during FY 2009.

Last year, immigration prosecutions were at an all time high. When the current rate is compared with two years ago, the current pace is still 5.5 percent higher than it was during FY 2008 when there were only 79,431. Compared to five years ago when there were 37,614, the number of FY 2010 prosecutions are projected to be up 123 percent. These comparisons of the number of defendants charged with immigration-related offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States


While there may be a decrease in total criminal immigration prosecutions, markedly different trends emerge upon examining the data by investigative agency, lead charge and federal district. The remaining sections of this report explore these different trends.

Trends by Investigative Agency

The Department of Homeland Security was the lead investigative agency in virtually all (99 percent) immigration prosecutions. More than four out of every five (82 percent) of immigration prosecutions had been investigated by DHS's Customs and Border Protection (CBP). CBP includes the Border Patrol along with the agents who inspect individuals and freight at all ports-of-entry.

In 15 percent of the immigration prosecutions, the lead investigative agency was DHS's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). That agency houses both a large contingent of general inspectors and of criminal investigators. DHS's Citizenship and Immigration Services accounts for only 2 percent. The remaining 1 percent is contributed from other federal, state and local investigative agencies.

Changing Patterns in Federal Districts

During the first three months of FY 2010, nine out of ten immigration prosecutions (90 percent) took place in the five federal districts along the southwest border of the United States — Arizona, California South, New Mexico, Texas South and Texas West. This was about the same proportion as in FY 2009. Each of these five federal districts showed declines in prosecutions for illegal entry (8 USC 1325), and significant increases in the prosecutions for illegal reentry (8 USC 1326).

In Arizona, for example, criminal prosecutions for illegal entry dropped by 4 percent, while illegal reentry prosecutions grew by 31 percent. Other federal districts along the southwest border showed larger rates of decline in prosecutions for illegal entry: California South (San Diego) down 40 percent, New Mexico down 36 percent, Texas South (Houston) down 27 percent and Texas West (San Antonio) down 38 percent.

And similar to Arizona, the remaining border districts also showed increases in the pace of criminal prosecutions for illegal reentry, although that increase varied significantly by district. Next to Arizona where the increase was 31 percent, California South (San Diego) showed the next largest increase in the pace of illegal reentry prosecutions of 28 percent. New Mexico with a 7 percent increase, Texas South (Houston) with a 10 percent increase, and Texas West (San Antonio) with a 14 percent increase all increased the pace of illegal reentry prosecutions but by lesser degrees.

n the rest of the country there are relatively few prosecutions for illegal entry to begin with; the typical charge is for illegal reentry. Outside the southwest border districts, there was virtually no change (less than 1 percent difference) recorded in the number of prosecutions for illegal reentry.

source: TRAC

Author: Moises Apsan
Attorney with over 35 years of experience. Past president Federal Bar Association NJ Chapter (1997-2002). Offices in New York, NY, Newark, NJ. Tel: 888-460-1800 and
Apsan Law Offices
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