Obama Administration Setting Record for Felony Prosecutions of Immigrants

The administration of President Barack Obama is setting records for felony prosecutions of immigrants, as “illegal reentry” becomes “the most commonly recorded lead charge brought by federal prosecutors during the first half of FY 2011,” says a report by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

While the administration is pursuing fewer and fewer cases of misdemeanor “illegal entry” the numbers of felony “illegal reentry” prosecutions in 2011 is projected to reach more than 37,000 or more than double the number of such cases (17,679) recorded in 2007.

“Illegal reentry is a felony offense and results in longer sentences than the second most frequent immigration charge brought this year, illegal entry, which is classed as a petty misdemeanor,” says the TRAC report.

“During the first six months of 2011, the average prison sentence was 14 months for those convicted where illegal reentry was recorded as the lead charge. This contrasts with an average of only 1 month prison time for convictions where the recorded lead charge was just illegal entry. Together, these two statutes account for over nine out of ten (91 percent) of all immigration criminal prosecutions.”

This is the first year that the number of felony reentry charges exceeds the number of charges for misdemeanor entry.

“Virtually all prosecutions for illegal entry (98 percent) are the result of investigations by the Border Patrol, and the number of border apprehensions have fallen off sharply particularly beginning in FY 2007,” says the TRAC report. “Relative to the number of apprehensions at the border, however, the odds of being criminally prosecuted have actually been climbing.”–gm

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