Federal Arrests of Non-U.S. Citizens Climbed 234% in 1998-2018: BJS

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Photo by Duffman via Flickr

The extent of the federal government’s crackdown on immigration has been quantified in stark figures by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS).

According to the BJS, the number of non-U.S. citizens arrested by federal agents rose 234 percent between 1998 and 2018, compared to a 10 percent increase in federal arrests of American citizens over the same period.

Put another way, 63 percent of all federal arrests in 1998 were of U.S. citizens. Twenty years later, 64 percent of all federal arrests involved non-U.S. citizens, the BJS said in its first-ever report on the citizenship of individuals arrested and prosecuted for federal offenses.

The Bureau also found that federal arrests of non-U.S. citizens increased by over 58 percent between 2017 and 2018 —the majority of them for immigration offenses.

The analysis of data from the 94 federal judicial districts, showed that the number of individuals detained for immigration offenses aged between 20-34 more than doubled in just one year—from 32,534 in 2017 to 67,527 in 2018. Most of the arrests were recorded in five districts on the southern U.S. border: southern California , Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas

According to the BJS, the majority of non-U.S. arrestees last year were citizens of Mexico (rising from 28 per cent in 1998 to over 40 percent in 2018) and Central America (rising from 1 percent to 20 percent in the same 20-year period).

Males under the age of 30 accounted for 51 percent of the total increase in federal immigration arrests between 2017-2018, the figures showed.

The numbers don’t make it clear whether the increase corresponded to a greater number of individuals attempting to cross the border illegally. But other studies suggest that undocumented immigration to the U.S. has “fallen dramatically” since 1990.

The “zero-tolerance” strategy towards immigration pursued by the White House resulted in some of the sharpest increases last year. Federal arrests for immigration crimes more than doubled between 1998 and 2017, from 20,942 to 58,031—and then nearly doubled again in just one year, to 108,667 in 2018.

More than 70 percent of prosecutions in federal court against non-U.S. citizens in 2018 were for illegal entry, followed by drug offenses (13 percent).

In another indicator of the shift in federal resources towards immigration, there were just under 21,00 federal arrests in 1998 for immigration-related offenses, compared to 82,863 arrests for other crimes; but in 2018, 108,667 arrests related to immigration were reported, while the number of arrests for other offenses rose only slightly to 87,086.

The number of individuals prosecuted for first-time illegal entry into the U.S. rose by 1,926 percent, from 3,039 in 1998 to 61,581 in 2018, with the most dramatic increase—nearly 123 percent—occurring in the 12-month period between 2017 and 2018.

Non-U.S. citizens represented just 7 percent of the U.S. population, according to 2017 U.S. Census figures, but they accounted for 15 percent of all federal arrests in 2018, and 15 percent of prosecutions in U.S. district courts for non-immigration crimes.

Read the full report and tables here.

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