|(06 Aug 2018)
The push to prioritize prosecuting illegal border crossers has begun to impact the capacity of federal prosecutors to enforce other federal laws.
In March 2018, immigration prosecutions dominated so that in the five federal districts along the southwest border only one in seven prosecutions (14%) were for any non-immigration crimes. But by June 2018, this ratio had shrunk so just one in seventeen prosecutions (6%) were for anything other than immigration offenses.
Federal prosecutors are responsible for enforcing a wide range of important federal laws - designed to combat narcotics trafficking and weapons offenses, battle those polluting air and water, counter corporate and other schemes to defraud the public, and much more. There is a combined population in these five southwest border districts of close to 30 million people. However, the number of prosecutions for committing any non-immigration crimes dwindled from a total of 1,093 in March 2018 to just 703 prosecutions in June 2018.
Meanwhile, immigration prosecutions continue to climb. The latest available case-by-case records for June 2018 reveal a total of 11,086 new federal prosecutions were brought as a result of referrals from Customs and Border Protection in the five federal judicial districts along the southwest border. June numbers were up 20.3 percent from the 9,216 such prosecutions recorded during May, and up 74.1 percent over March figures. Despite this increase, only 46 percent of all Border Patrol arrests of adults in June were criminally prosecuted.
The number of families arrested by the Border Patrol showed little indication of materially dropping. Numbers have remained quite similar during April, May and June. This meant that Border Patrol officials still had to pick and choose which adults to refer to federal prosecutors, and which adults not to criminally prosecute.
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