Immigration Prosecutions for May 2009
Table 1: Criminal Immigration Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during May 2009 the government reported 7908 new immigration prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is down 0.7% 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 2009 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was up (15.2 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 119.5 percent from levels reported in 2004.
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 48.1 percent instead of 119.5 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. To view trends year-by-year rather than month-by-month, see TRAC's annual report series for a broader picture.
Figure 2: Prosecutions by Investigative Agency
Virtually all federal criminal prosecutions for immigration offenses in May 2009
(99 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 May 2009, 71 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 May 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 62.3 percent of all magistrate filings in May.
Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "8 USC 1326 - Reentry of deported alien" (30.6%).
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 May 2009.
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 the 1 most frequently invoked 5 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 the 2 most frequently invoked 5 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 4 a year ago, while it was the 5 most frequently invoked 5 years ago..
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in prosecutions—up 42.5 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 18 U.S.C Section 911
that involves " False personification - Citizen of the US
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—470 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 27.6 percent—was
False statement in application and use of passport
(Title 18 U.S.C Section 1542 ).
Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions— 44.5 percent—was
for filings where the lead charge was " Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc.
" (Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325
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
The Southern District of Texas (Houston)—with 538 prosecutions—was the most active during May 2009.
The Southern District of Texas (Houston) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.
The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd.
The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 five years ago.
District of Arizona is now ranking 3rd.
The District of Arizona was ranked 4 a year ago, while it was ranked 3 five years ago.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Utah , now ranked
, and Nevada
In the same order, these districts ranked 12th and 22nd one year ago and 12th and 23rd five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in immigration prosecutions compared to one year ago— 64.2 percent—was
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth— 152.4 percent—was
Eastern District of California (Sacramento).
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in immigration prosecutions— 28 percent—was
Central District of California (Los Angeles).
This was the same district that had the largest increase— 8.3 %—when compared with five years ago.
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 May 2009 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 District of New Mexico ranked 1st with 154 defendants in immigration cases.
Judge Brack appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 1) and five years ago (rank 4).
Judge George P. Kazen in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 2nd with 112 defendants in immigration cases.
Judge Kazen appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 4) and five years ago (rank 2).
Judge Micaela Alvarez in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 3rd with 99 defendants in immigration cases.
Judge Alvarezalso appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago(ranked 5).