Non-Violent Immigration Prosecutions Have Increased, New Data Reveals
Federal Immigration Prosecutions Reach Record Levels
Federal immigration prosecutions rose to record high levels in 2009, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). The federal government’s shift in resources has meant more serious criminals involved in drugs, weapons, and organized crime face a lower probability of prosecution. The number of immigration prosecutions has continued to increase and now make up 54 percent of all federal criminal prosecutions.
What types of federal immigration crimes are being prosecuted?
- The most prosecuted federal immigration crimes in 2009 were for immigrants caught entering the United States at an improper time or place, totaled approximately 40,000.
- Illegal reentry of a deported alien accounted for nearly 22,000 prosecutions in 2009.
- Potential smuggling charges were brought less frequently.
What crimes are NOT being prosecuted?
- Between 2003 and 2008, prosecutions of “white collar” crimes fell by 18%, weapons prosecutions decreased 19%, organized crime prosecutions fell by 20%, public corruption prosecutions dropped 14%, and drug prosecutions declined by 20%.
Why have federal immigration prosecutions increased?
- Because of Operation Streamline – a new DHS program which mandates federal criminal prosecution and subsequent imprisonment of all persons caught crossing the border unlawfully.
How much do increased prosecutions and Operation Streamline cost?
- $8.1 million is needed for new attorneys to help adjudicate Operation Streamline cases and $144 million of this increase is for new U.S. Marshals and construction of new courthouse space to adjudicate these cases.
What are the other problems with Operation Streamline?
- Court appointed attorneys are often forced to represent up to 80 clients in one hearing.
- Judges are forced to conduct hearings en masse, with up to 80 defendants pleading guilty at a time.
- Many migrants are unaware of Operation Streamline, so the deterrent capacity of the program is questionable.
- More professional smugglers are used to cross the border because of the increased risk
- Crossings happen at more remote and dangerous areas because of this risk of getting caught.
- Migrants are entering through legal ports of entry using false documents rather than risking their lives crossing the border.
- Circular migration is being reduced because family members cannot risk the trip home and are forced to remain in the U.S. once they are here.