Immigration Prosecutions for December 2006
Table 1: Criminal Immigration Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during December 2006 the government reported 2366 new immigration prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access
Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 10.2% over the previous month.
The comparisons of the number of defendants charged with immigration-related
offenses are based on case-by-case information obtained by TRAC under the Freedom
of Information Act from the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. (See
When monthly 2006 prosecutions are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the filings were down (-17.5 percent).
Prosecutions over the past year are still much higher than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that the prosecutions are up 118.7
percent from levels reported in 2001.
The substantial growth in
these cases is partly related to increases in the matters filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. If magistrate cases
are excluded and only Federal District Court cases are counted, the overall increase in
immigration prosecutions is 3.6 percent instead of 118.7 percent.
The evidence suggests that part of the difference may be the result of improvements in the recording of the magistrate cases
by the Justice Department.
Figure 1: Criminal Immigration Prosecutions over the last five years
The increase from the levels five years ago in immigration prosecutions is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1
represent the number of immigration prosecutions recorded on a month-to-month
basis. The superimposed line on the bars plots the six-month moving average so
that natural fluctuations are smoothed out. The one and five-year rates of change in Table 1 and in the sections that follow are all based upon this six-month moving average.
Figure 2: Prosecutions by Investigative Agency
Virtually all federal criminal prosecutions for immigration offenses in December 2006
(98 percent) were referred by the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS). The two lead investigative agencies in DHS are Customs and Border Protection (CBP) whose border patrol
agencies guard the county's borders, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), responsible for conducting
most immigration criminal investigations
under the immigration laws. See Figure 2.
Lead Charge in Immigration Prosecutions
US Magistrate Courts
In December 2006, 76 percent of immigration cases took place in U.S. Magistrate Courts which handle less serious
misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses."
In the magistrate courts in December the most frequently cited lead charge was
Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325 involving the "Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc.". This was the lead charge
for 40.6 percent of all magistrate filings in December.
Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "8 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien" (39.8%), "8 USC 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens" (7%).
US District Courts
Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of immigration matters
filed in U.S. District Court during December 2006.
Table 2: Top charges filed
"Reentry of deported alien" (8 U.S.C Section 1326) was the most frequent recorded
This statute was also ranked 1st a year ago as well as five years ago.
Ranked 2nd in frequency was the lead charge "Bringing in and harboring certain aliens"
under Title 8 U.S.C Section 1324.
This statute was also ranked 2nd a year ago as well as five years ago.
Ranked 3rd was "Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1546.
This statute was ranked 4th a year ago, while it was the 4th most frequently invoked 5 years ago.
Figure 3: District Court vs.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in prosecutions—up 500 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1015
that involves " Fraud - Nat'zation, citizenship, alien registry
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—66.7 percent—was registered for
prosecutions under " Firearms; Unlawful acts
" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 ).
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 63 percent—was
Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc.
(Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325 ).
This was the same statute that had the largest decrease— 67.5 %—when compared with five years ago.
Immigration Prosecutions by Judicial District
Understandably, there is great variation in the number of immigration prosecutions that are filed in each of the nation's ninety-four federal judicial districts.
The districts registering the
largest number of prosecutions last month are shown in Table 3.
Table 3: Top 10 districts
Southern District of Texas (Houston)—with 86 prosecutions—was the most active during December 2006.
This district was ranked 1st a year ago as well as five years ago.
Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd.
This marked a fall from Texas West's
2ndplace ranking just one year ago.
Five years ago, the district's position was 4.
Southern District of California (San Diego) is now
It moved up in its rankings from a year ago when it ranked 5th.
Five years ago, the district's position was 3.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Southern District of Iowa (Des Moines), now ranked
, and Minnesota
In the same order, these districts ranked 47th and 62th
one year ago and 28th and 64th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in immigration prosecutions compared to one year ago— 247.4 percent—was
Southern District of Iowa (Des Moines).
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 460 percent—was
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in immigration prosecutions— 59.1 percent—was
New Mexico .
But over the past five years,
showed the largest drop— 36.3 percent.
Top Ranked District Judges
At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. For the entire nation, the judges recorded with the largest number of new immigration crime cases
during December 2006 are shown in Table 4.
All 10 of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of immigration filings .
Judge Robert C. Brack in the
ranked 1st with 19 defendants in immigration cases.
Judge Brackalso appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago
Judge Ricardo H. Hinojosa in the
Southern District of Texas (Houston)
ranked 2nd with 14 defendants in immigration cases.
Judge Hinojosa also appeared in the top ten rankings one year
(ranked 5th) and five years ago (rank 10th).
Judge Micaela Alvarez in
Southern District of Texas (Houston)
ranked 2nd as well with 14 new immigration cases.
Judge Alvarez also appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago