Federal prosecutions for immigration violations have declined by 15 percent over the past five years, new data from the U.S. Department of Justice recently revealed.
A new report compiled by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University shows that immigration violations comprised a stunning 52 percent of all federal prosecutions in FY 2016, easily beating out total prosecutions for drugs, weapons, fraud, or any other federal charge.
However, despite the fact that the feds prosecuted 69,636 aliens for immigration violations last year (a shockingly low number, considering there are an estimated 12 million illegal aliens living in the U.S.), that number is down significantly from the 82,250 immigration-related prosecutions the feds reported back in FY 2011.
TRAC, who had to sue the DOJ to obtain these records, noted that while the overall number of federal immigration cases has been on the decline for the past several years, immigration violations now comprise a much higher percentage of all federal prosecutions than they used to, particularly when you trace the trend back to the ‘90s:
Prosecutions over the past year are still much higher than they were ten years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are up 85.6 percent from the level of 37,529 reported in 2006 and up 823 percent from the level of 7,543 reported in 1996.
It’s also interesting to note which agencies are actually responsible for prosecuting immigration violators. A staggering majority (87 percent) of all federal immigration prosecutions reported in FY 2016 were led by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the agency tasked with monitoring all U.S. ports of entry and the miles and miles of border in between.
However, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – the agency responsible for monitoring the interior of the United States, enforcing visa limits and nabbing criminal aliens, but whose hands have been good and well tied by Obama’s immigration orders – took credit for just under 10 percent of the federal prosecutions.
Perhaps a more notable way of looking at the DOJ data is to break down exactly who the federal government is targeting for immigration violations, and who they aren’t.
Despite the fact that 408,000 illegal aliens reportedly crossed the U.S.-Mexico border last year alone, TRAC reports the DOJ prosecuted only 35,367 aliens for coming into the country illegally last year. Another 28,930 cases were for aliens who’d re-entered the U.S. after having previously been deported. In total, these two categories alone comprised more than 92 percent of all federal immigration cases, ostensibly omitting millions of known illegal aliens living in the interior of the United States, as well as tens of thousands of recent border-crossers.
Additionally, only 502 federal cases were brought against aliens for fraud and misuse of a visa, permit or other official documents.
An even smaller number of illegal aliens – 165, to be exact – were federally prosecuted for fraudulently producing or using I.D. documents like passports, social security cards or driver’s licenses. This shockingly low number comes despite experts who’ve suggested that about 75 percent of working-age illegal aliens use fraudulent social security cards to obtain employment, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.
Only 50 federal cases were brought against illegal aliens for firearms violations or other “unlawful acts.”
TRAC reported the majority of these cases (43,538) were filed in U.S. District courts in Texas. The state with the second-largest number of federal immigration prosecutions was Arizona with 14,191 cases, although TRAC notes that court has seen a 26.3 percent drop in federal immigration cases in just the last year.
Lagging at a far third place was New Mexico with only 4,441.