Percent Change from 5 years ago (Including Magistrate Court)
Percent Change from 5 years ago (Excluding Magistrate Court)
Table 1. Criminal Immigration Prosecutions
The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during June 2020 the government reported 1597 new immigration prosecutions.
According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 46.5 percent 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 2020 prosecutions of this type are compared with those of the same period in
the previous year, the number of filings was down (-52%).
Prosecutions over the past year are still much lower than they were five years ago.
Overall, the data show that prosecutions of this type are down 27.2 percent from levels reported in 2015.
The dip 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 decrease in
immigration prosecutions is 18.4 percent instead of 27.2 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. Monthly Trends in Immigration Prosecutions
The decrease 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.
Figure 2. Prosecutions by Investigative Agency
Virtually all federal criminal prosecutions for immigration offenses in June 2020
(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 June 2020, 1341 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 June the most frequently cited lead charge was
Title 8 U.S.C Section 1326 involving "Reentry of deported alien". This was the lead charge
for 50.4 percent of all magistrate filings in June.
Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: "08 USC 1325 - Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc." (34.1%), "08 USC 1324 - Bringing in and harboring certain aliens" (13.6%).
Immigration Prosecutions in U.S. District Courts
In June 2020, 256 defendants in new cases
for these matters were charged in the U.S. District Courts. In addition during June there
were an additional 931 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 June.
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 June 2020.
"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 3 five years ago.
Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest
increase in prosecutions — up 200 percent — compared to one year ago was Title 42 U.S.C Section 408
that involves " Fed Old Age, Survivors & Disab Insur -Penalties ".
Compared to five years ago, the largest increase — 400 percent — was registered for
prosecutions under " Accessory after the fact " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 3 ).
Again among the top ten lead charges, the one showing the sharpest
decline in prosecutions compared to one year ago — down 69 percent — was
" Firearms; Unlawful acts " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 922 ).
Compared to five years ago, the most significant decline in prosecutions — 72.5 percent — was
for filings where the lead charge was " Misuse of passport " (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1544 ).
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.
The Southern District of Texas (Houston) — with 610 prosecutions — was the most active during June 2020.
The Southern District of Texas (Houston) was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 for most frequent use five years ago.
The District of Arizona ranked 2nd.
The District of Arizona was ranked 5 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 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 5 for most frequent use five years ago.
Recent entrants to the top 10 list were
Eastern District of Washington (Spokane), now ranked
, and Northern District of New York (Syracuse)
In the same order, these districts ranked 15th and 16th one year ago and 45th and 13th five years ago.
The federal judicial district which showed the greatest growth
in immigration prosecutions compared to one year ago — 120 percent — was
Compared to five years ago, the district with the largest growth — 87.7 percent — was
Middle District of Florida (Tampa).
In the last year, the judicial District Court recording the
largest drop in immigration prosecutions — 58.4 percent — was
Eastern District of Washington (Spokane).
But over the past five years,
showed the largest drop — 39.6 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 June 2020 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 Diana Saldana in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 1st with 111 defendants in immigration cases.
Judge Saldana also appeared in the top ten rankings one year ago (ranked 8).
Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 2nd with 108 defendants in immigration cases.
Judge Garcia Marmolejo appeared in the top ten rankings one year (ranked 9) and five years ago (rank 10).
Judge Micaela Alvarez in the Southern District of Texas (Houston) ranked 3rd with 75 defendants in immigration cases.