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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The United States is prosecuting more immigration crimes than ever before, according to a new report from Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

The report finds that the United States has pursued 90,806 new immigration prosecutions through the first 11 months of fiscal year 2013 — 93 percent of the prosecutions were for entering or re-entering the country illegally.

At this pace, the number of prosecutions for the year will end at 99,061 — easily the highest total in the past 20 years. As the following chart shows, the Obama administration’s rate of immigration prosecutions significantly outpaces that of the previous two administrations:

TRAC Chart

The number of immigration prosecutions has skyrocketed over the past five years, even as the number of illegal border crossings has hit a 40-year low. Additionally, the Pew Research Center estimates that the United States’ undocumented immigrant population was about 11.7 million in 2012  — significantly down from the 2007 peak of 12.2 million.

Pew chart

As Aviva Shen points out at ThinkProgress, in addition to the human costs of criminalizing immigrants instead of merely deporting them, the sharp rise in prosecutions also has serious fiscal ramifications:

These prosecutions also bleed taxpayer dollars. Illegal-entry offenders under federal sentencing serve an average of 19 months in federal prison, costing more than $30,000 per inmate. As a result, immigration offenders make up almost one-third of the total federal prison population.

One would think that, with the border more secure than ever, that prosecutions would decline. But given that opponents of immigration reform consistently demand ever-more-severe enforcement measures as a precondition for even beginning to negotiate an immigration reform bill, there is no reason to expect that the authorities will get less aggressive in the near future.

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18 Responses to Report: Immigration Prosecutions Rise Despite Declining Border Crossings

  1. It’s actually a combination of things. As illegal crossings decrease, the ICE can now spend the time finding the people already here illegally instead of having to stop them from crossing in the first place.
    When someone is detained while crossing, the typical routine is to round them up, and then drive them back to a border crossing back to Mexico or Canada. Those same folks will usually find another way to return within a couple of weeks. However, if they can be prevented from crossing in the first place, then ICE doesn’t have to deal with their “repeat customers”.
    One thing that has actually helped is the improvements in the Mexican economy. As jobs and pay get better South of the border, the people are less likely to want or need to come to the US.

    • With the Mexican middle class growing, and the American middle class being downsized (by our business leaders), we might eventually see American citizens sneaking across the border, southward.

  2. We really don’t have any serious immigration enforcement. The most effective way to enforce immigration law is workplace enforcement. If illegals can’t make a living, they will leave on their own accord. Everything else, such as increased border security and more visible prosecutions, is nothing but window dressing by politicians who want to look serious on immigration enforcement but will not go after the root of the problem: the desire by corrupt business interests for cheap labor.

    • You overlook the matter that many (most?) illegals are here because them can’t make a living in their home countries. In a choice between starving here, or going back home and starving, why would many leave?

      • First of all, most illegals were not starving in their home countries. Mexico, which is the source of about half of U.S. illegal immigration, recently was rated as the most obese nation in the world. Second, strict workplace enforcement would make it harder for them to find work (and therefore food) here than it is in their home countries, meaning that the chances of them getting a meal here are less than they would be in their home countries (unless they turn themselves in for deportation). Third, how can you possibly say that big business is opposed to “comprehensive immigration reform”? If by “comprehensive immigration reform” you mean amnesty for illegal aliens and increases in both permanent legal immigration and guest workers, big business is the driving force behind it. Except for a few naive progressives and some ethno-centric groups (which are lavishly funded by big business donors), there is no popular support whatsoever for “comprehensive immigration reform”.

        • If you want to believe that, fine.

          Second, getting a lot of calories — too many — doesn’t mean one Is getting good nutrition.

          • What are they going to do if they can’t get work and can’t get welfare (something that would be very easy to make happen using existing bureaucracy and law enforcement infrastructure)? Stay here and starve out of a burning desire to be an American? I don’t think so. This is not a difficult problem to solve. President Eisenhower demonstrated that in 1954.

            As to your second point, I agree, but keep in mind that the U.S. already consumes more fruits and vegetables than it produces. Bringing more people in is going to make that problem worse.

  3. As long as there are businesses willing to hire these illegals without fear of consequences they will continue to cross the border. When business owners are required to use e-verify to make sure they are hiring someone here legally and it hits them in the pocketbook by fining them significantly then maybe they would quit hiring them.

      • They can go home. We cannot accept all the needy people of the world without destroying our own nation. We have limits. We are not the mother of the world.

    • Or, they could hire illegals through contractors. “He assured me that all his employees were E-verified! See, here is his certification!”

          • If they have people on a payroll, they would not be able to escape this. The only way to escape an E-Verify mandate, backed up by Federal SSN-No Matching, would be to hire people off the books. There is probably only so far they could take that though, as their finances would eventually get the attention of the IRS if they relied heavily on an underground workforce.

    • Illegal immigration has actually been increasing this year. Diminished interior and workplace enforcement is undoubtedly a factor.

  4. We had more deportations of illegal immigrants during the past 5 years than during the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II administrations combined. Add to that the fact that the only amnesty of illegal immigrants (5 million) was granted by former President Reagan, and people have to be extremely gullible to buy the garbage the Tea Party is selling to their flock.

    • The problem is that we have limited resources. It would be great to have open borders with Latin America, but the wage imbalances would cause a human tide which would swamp this nation and destroy our quality of life. Restrictive immigration policies, and their strict enforcement, are an unfortunate necessity in maintaining our nation. We already have more people than we can provide for, and any immigration reform that truly serves the national interest would allow fewer, not more, immigrants into the U.S.

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