Immigration Prosecutions for December 2012

Number Latest Month 9,824
Percent Change from previous month 23.8
Percent Change from 1 year ago 27.7
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court) 138.6
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court) 10.7
Table 1: Criminal Immigration Prosecutions

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during December 2012 the government reported 9824 new immigration prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 23.8% 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 Table 1)

When monthly 2012 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in the previous year, the number of filings was up (27.7 percent). Prosecutions over the past year are still much higher than they were five years ago. Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are up 138.6 percent from levels reported in 2007.

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 10.7 percent instead of 138.6 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.

Plot of _FREQ_ by FYMONDT

Figure 1: Monthly trends in immigration prosecutions

The increase from the levels five years ago in immigration prosecutions for these matters is shown more clearly in Figure 1. The vertical bars in Figure 1 represent the number of immigration prosecutions of this type recorded on a month-to-month basis. Where a prosecution was initially filed in U.S. Magistrate Court and then transferred to the U.S. District Court, the magistrate filing date was used since this provides an earlier indicator of actual trends. 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. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.

Pie chart of agenrevgrp

Figure 2: Prosecutions by investigative agency

Virtually all federal criminal prosecutions for immigration offenses in December 2012 (100 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.

Immigration Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts

Top Ranked Lead Charges

In December 2012, 9076 defendants in immigration cases for these matters were filed in U.S. Magistrate Courts. These courts handle less serious misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses." In addition, complaints are sometimes filed in the magistrate courts before an indictment or information is entered. In these cases, the matter starts in the magistrate courts and later moves to the district court where subsequent proceedings take place.

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 73.6 percent of all magistrate filings in December.

Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien" (23.5%).

Immigration Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts

In December 2012, 748 defendants in new cases for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during December there were an additional 1087 defendants whose cases moved from the magistrate courts to the U.S. district courts after an indictment or information was filed. The sections which follow cover both sets of cases and therefore cover all matters filed in district court during December.

Top Ranked Lead Charges

Table 2 shows the top lead charges recorded in the prosecutions of immigration matters filed in U.S. District Court during December 2012.

Lead Charge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
08 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien 1,472 1 1 1 More
08 USC 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens 201 2 2 2 More
18 USC 1546 - Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents 73 3 3 4 More
18 USC 1544 - Misuse of passport 20 4 6 11 More
08 USC 1325 - Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc. 12 5 4 3 More
18 USC 1542 - False statement in application and use of passport 8 6 7 7 More
18 USC 911 - False personification - Citizen of the US 6 7 5 6 More
18 USC 1028 - Fraud and related activity - id documents 5 8 13 5 More
18 USC 371 - Conspiracy to commit offense or to defraud US 4 9 8 9 More
18 USC 1001 - Fraud/false statements or entries generally 4 9 9 8 More
18 USC 1203 - Kidnapping - Hostage taking 4 9 26 17 More
21 USC 841 - Drug Abuse Prevention & Control-Prohibited acts A 4 9 10 13 More
42 USC 408 - Fed Old Age, Survivors & Disab Insur -Penalties 4 9 12 12 More
Table 2: Top charges filed

  • "Reentry of deported alien" (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1326) was the most frequent recorded lead charge. "Reentry of deported alien" (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1326) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 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. "Bringing in and harboring certain aliens" under Title 8 U.S.C Section 1324 was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 five years ago.

  • Ranked 3rd was "Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1546. "Fraud and misuse of visas, permits, and other documents" under Title 18 U.S.C Section 1546 was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 five years ago.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions—up 250 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 1203 that involves " Kidnapping - Hostage taking ". Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—707.4 percent—was registered for prosecutions under " Misuse of passport " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1544 ).

Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 54.3 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— 74.5 %—when compared with five years ago.

Top Ranked Judicial Districts

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 of this type last month are shown in Table 3.


Judicial District Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Texas, W 336 1 1 2 More
Texas, S 327 2 2 1 More
Cal, S 290 3 3 3 More
N Mexico 235 4 5 5 More
Arizona 194 5 4 4 More
Fla, S 62 6 7 7 More
Cal, C 29 7 6 6 More
Cal, E 26 8 8 12 More
Fla, M 17 9 11 8 More
Nebraska 17 9 19 43 More
Table 3: Top 10 districts

  • The Western District of Texas (San Antonio)—with 336 prosecutions—was the most active during December 2012. The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 2 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • The Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 2nd. The Southern District of Texas (Houston) was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 for most frequent use five years ago.

  • Southern District of California (San Diego) is now ranking 3rd. The Southern District of California (San Diego) was ranked 3 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 for most frequent use five years ago.

Recent entrants to the top 10 list were Middle District of Florida (Tampa), now ranked 9th , and Nebraska at 9th In the same order, these districts ranked 11th and 19th one year ago and 8th and 43rd five years ago.

The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth in immigration prosecutions compared to one year ago— 83.7 percent—was Southern District of Florida (Miami). Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 244 percent—was Nebraska .

In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the largest drop in immigration prosecutions— 28.5 percent—was Arizona .  But over the past five years, Central District of California (Los Angeles) showed the largest drop— 44 percent.

Top Ranked District Judges

At any one time, there are about 680 federal District Court judges working in the United States. The judges recorded with the largest number of new immigration crime cases of this type during December 2012 are shown in Table 4.

Judge Count Rank 1yr ago 5yrs ago  
Brack, Robert C. N Mexico 136 1 22 2 More
Moses, Alia Texas, W 95 2 1 - More
Junell, Robert A. Texas, W 50 3 12 30 More
Tagle, Hilda G. Texas, S 43 4 11 7 More
Hanen, Andrew S. Texas, S 40 5 10 8 More
Conway, John Edwards N Mexico 36 6 2 29 More
Cardone, Kathleen Texas, W 36 6 7 12 More
Briones, David Texas, W 31 8 5 10 More
Alvarez, Micaela Texas, S 29 9 8 4 More
Hinojosa, Ricardo H. Texas, S 28 10 4 5 More
Table 4: Top 10 judges

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 District of New Mexico ranked 1st with 136 defendants in immigration cases.

  • Judge Alia Moses in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd with 95 defendants in immigration cases. Judge Mosesalso appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago(ranked 1).

  • Judge Robert A. Junell in the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 3rd with 50 defendants in immigration cases.

Report Generated: February 20, 2013
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