Putting TRAC to Work
  Policy and Public Interest Groups
November 11, 2021

Criminal Immigration Prosecutions Drop at Southern Border
By Jason Pena

The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University released a report detailing the number of prosecutions for immigration-related criminal offenses along the southern border. The TRAC report classifies border entry violations into three categories: unlawful entry (8 USC 1325), unlawful reentry (8 USC 1326), and bringing in and harboring certain aliens (8 USC 1324). The report found that before the Covid-19 pandemic began in March 2020, prosecutions for unlawful entry typically surpassed 3,000 each month. However, the months that followed experienced a steep decline in unlawful entry prosecutions, owing the COVID-induced severe economic dip and Trump administration policies aimed at discouraging illegal immigration. For example, in June 2020, prosecutions for unlawful entry peaked at 35 and did not surpass that figure in the following months. Moreover, the decline of unauthorized entry charges has remained consistently low in FY 2021 (October 2020 September 2021), even as illegal immigration exploded after Joe Biden became president. In fact, the total number of prosecutions for unlawful entry plunged to 267 for FY 2021, a record low since 1986. Similarly, prosecution of criminal reentry offenses declined at the inception of the pandemic. In April 2020, only 324 prosecutions were made for reentry violations, compared with the more than 3,000 charges made in March of that same year. While reentry prosecutions increased to 1,007 in August 2020 and have steadily risen, the number of prosecutions in FY 2021 is significantly lower compared with previous years.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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