Immigration 40% of Federal Crime Cases, From 12K to 85K In Decade


Immigration-related offenses are now the leading type of federal prosecution, constituting more than 40 percent of cases compared with 22 percent for drug crimes, according to federal crime data cited in a Human Rights Watch report quoted by the Los Angeles Times. Many immigrants are now prosecuted because they try to cross the border again after being deported, says the organization. Often, they are so desperate to get back to their families in the U.S. that prison time is not a deterrent, the report said. In the past, people with no prior criminal record would have been deported without being prosecuted. The report, “Turning Migrants Into Criminals,” said immigration prosecutions for illegal entry or reentry increased to more than 85,000 in 2013 from about 12,500 in 2002. Until about a decade ago, most people prosecuted for immigration violations had criminal histories that included violent crimes or firearms offenses. Then federal prosecutors began taking more immigration cases in which the defendant had no prior convictions or a minor criminal record. A misdemeanor conviction for illegal entry is now enough to trigger a felony prosecution if the person is caught trying to enter the country a second time. Human Rights Watch put the cost of incarcerating immigration violators at $1 billion in 2011.

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