Of the 9,179 new federal prosecutions lodged nationwide in March 2011, a full 86.2% were for immigration-related criminal offenses, reported Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). TRAC, Prosecutions for March 2011 (June 10, 2011). The top immigration offense (and also the most charged federal crime) in March was for reentry after deportation (illegal reentry), INA § 276, 8 U.S.C. § 1326. TRAC, Immigration Prosecutions for March 2011 (June 10, 2011).
Though these numbers are down from the same time last year they’re up 111.5% from 2006 figures. Part of this growth, TRAC notes, might be due to better data about magistrate courts.
TRAC also noted that illegal reentry “was the most commonly recorded lead charge brought by federal prosecutors during the first half of FY 2011. It alone accounted for nearly half (47 percent) of all criminal immigration prosecutions filed. It accounted for just under a quarter (23 percent) of overall criminal prosecutions….” TRAC, Illegal Reentry Becomes Top Criminal Charge (June 10, 2011). On average, individuals convicted of illegal reentry were sentenced to 14 months imprisonment, TRAC reported. The Obama Administration’s focus on illegal reentry prosecutions reflects a shift away from illegal entry, INA § 275, prosecutions. The importance of this shift is that illegal reentry is a federal felony whereas illegal entry is a federal misdemeanor.