Federal Criminal Prosecutions Drop Along Southwest Border
The latest available case-by-case records from federal prosecutors for February 2019 show Customs and Border Protection (CBP)-referred prosecutions dropped by 12 percent last month. At the same time, the number of Border Patrol apprehensions rose between January and February. While most attention has been given to the jump in the number of families, the number of adults traveling without children picked up by Border Patrol agents were up by 26 percent in February over January levels.
Under this Administration's announced "zero tolerance" policy, adults traveling without children continue to be subject to criminal prosecution for illegal entry. But with apprehensions up and criminal prosecutions down, this left a much larger number who were not referred for criminal prosecution. See Table 1 and Figure 1.
Figure 1. Southwest Border Patrol Arrests of Adults Traveling Alone
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During February 2019, a generous estimate indicates criminal prosecutions had fallen to only 38 percent of total Border Patrol apprehensions of adults arrested traveling alone and not part of any family group. This does not count individuals at ports-of-entry who were found seeking to unlawfully enter using fraudulent documents, or individuals caught at ports-of-entry illegally smuggling individuals, drugs, or cargo.
Figure 2. Southwest Border Patrol Arrests and Prosecutions of Adults Traveling Without Children, February 2019
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As compared with last October, the first month of the new fiscal year, prosecutions in February were lower in all five of the judicial districts bordering Mexico. Relative declines were largest in the Southern District of California (San Diego) - down 35 percent, and the Southern District of Texas (Houston) - down 34 percent. Four out of five of these districts also experienced declines when February prosecution numbers were compared to those in January. See Table 2. Yet arrests of adults traveling without children rose in all Border Patrol sectors between January and February 2019. See Table 3.
TRAC offers free monthly reports on program categories such as white collar crime, immigration, drugs, weapons and terrorism and on selected government agencies such as the IRS, FBI, ATF and DHS. For the latest information on prosecutions and convictions, go to http://trac.syr.edu/tracreports/bulletins/. In addition, subscribers to the TRACFed data service can generate custom reports for a specific agency, judicial district, program category, lead charge or judge via the TRAC Data Interpreter.