Immigration Prosecutions for March 2007
Table 1: Criminal Immigration Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during March 2007 the government reported 3646 new immigration prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 17.2% 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 Table 1)
When monthly 2007 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was only slightlydown (-0.3 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 146.2 percent from levels reported in 2002.
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 17.4 percent instead of 146.2 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 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. 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 March 2007
(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.
Immigration Prosecutions in U.S. Magistrate Courts
Top Ranked Lead Charges
In March 2007, 75 percent of immigration cases for these matters took place in U.S. Magistrate Courts which handle less serious
misdemeanor cases, including what are called "petty offenses."
In the magistrate courts in March 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 49.2 percent of all magistrate filings in March.
Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "8 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien" (36.6%), "8 USC 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens" (8.6%).
Immigration Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
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 March 2007.
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.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in prosecutions—up 106.7 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 922
that involves " Firearms; Unlawful acts
This was the same statute that had the largest increase—138.5 %—when compared with five years ago.
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago—down 55.2 percent—was
Forgery or false use of passport
(Title 18 U.S.C Section 1543 ).
Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions— 71.9 percent—was
for filings where the lead charge was " Fraud/false statements or entries generally
" (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1001
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.
Table 3: Top 10 districts
Southern District of Texas (Houston)—with 224 prosecutions—was the most active during March 2007.
This district was also ranked 1st a year ago as well as five years ago.
Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd.
This district was also ranked 2nd a 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
Puerto Rico , now ranked
, and Colorado
In the same order, these districts ranked 15th and 17th one year ago and 23rd and 21st five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in immigration prosecutions compared to one year ago— 31.7 percent—was
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 159.5 percent—was
Puerto Rico .
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in immigration prosecutions— 34.4 percent—was
Middle District of Florida (Tampa).
But over the past five years,
Southern District of California (San Diego)
showed the largest drop— 5.3 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 March 2007 are shown in Table 4.
A total of 9 out of the "top ten" judges were in districts which were in the top ten with the largest number of immigration filings , while the remaining 2 judges were from other districts.
(Because of ties, there were a total of 11 judges in the "top ten" rankings.)
Judge Robert C. Brack in the
District of New Mexico ranked 1st with 39 defendants in immigration cases.
Judge Brackalso appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago
Judge M. James Lorenz in the Southern District of California (San Diego) ranked 2nd with 11 defendants in immigration cases.
Judge Marilyn L. Huff in the
Southern District of California (San Diego) ranked 3rd with 10 new immigration cases.