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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Immigration Cases Soar, Represent Half of All Federal Prosecutions

Immigration prosecutions have soared during the Bush administration, representing more than half of all federal prosecutions, up from 18 percent in the first fiscal year of Bush's presidency, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

In the most recent available month's numbers, a total of 11,454 immigration prosecutions in September 2008 represents a 700 percent increase from the same month in 2001, the year Bush took office, according to TRAC, which compiles data from the government's own records.

The shift in government enforcement raises the share of immigration cases as a proportion of all federal filings from 18 percent in fiscal year 2001 to 31 percent in 2004, the last year of Bush's first term, to 51 percent by fiscal year 2008, which ended in October.

The numbers bolster concerns expressed by federal judges in border states that their dockets have been inundated with immigration cases. The five federal districts with the largest share of immigration prosecutions in 2008 were the Southern District of Texas in Houston, the District of Arizona in Phoenix, the District of New Mexico in Albuquerque, the Western District of Texas in San Antonio and the Southern District of California in San Diego.

Other regions with high immigration case numbers were the District of Oregon, the Eastern District of Washington and the Western District of Arkansas. By contrast, white-collar crime prosecutions were down by 15 percent from the last year of the Clinton Administration: 8,108 in fiscal year 2008 from 9,532 in fiscal year 2000.

The number of drug case filings has also dropped during the past eight years. The data show, after moderate increases in the early years of the Bush presidency, that drug prosecutions were down by 20 percent to 26,336 in fiscal year 2008 from 32,753 in fiscal year 2001, according to TRAC.

The leading immigration charges include illegal re-entry of a deported alien, harboring illegal aliens and fraud and misuse of visas and work permits. [Mark Godsey]

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