According to information in a new report coming out of Syracuse University’s TRAC, re-entry into the U.S. by unauthorized immigrants was the crime most prosecuted by federal authorities.
In August there were 13,122 federal criminal prosecutions, and illegal re-entry accounted for 2,139 of those prosecutions. August’s information was the most recently released from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The next most commonly prosecuted crimes were drug-related, and accounted for 1,028 of the cases. Also at the top of the list were unlawful acts with firearms, smuggling and harboring undocumented immigrants, the importation of controlled substances, and crimes involving materials related the sexual exploitation of minors.
Co-director of TRAC, Susan B. Long, said the number of these illegal re-entry prosecutions is a sign that a drastic change in enforcement priorities has occurred over the last few years.
‘It shows the priorities of the federal government right now,’ Long said. ‘There’s been a huge policy shift, and a definite decision to criminally go after people [for immigration offenses]. More resources have been devoted to immigration enforcement.’
Formerly, the FBI was the top referrer of unlawful re-entry cases, but now the bureau’s referrals account for only 10 percent of the total.
The Department of Homeland Security, ICE’s parent agency, accounts for 56 percent of the prosecutions referred to federal authorities to take the top referrer spot from the FBI.