Federal convictions boom after targeting immigrants
Pew Research reported USSC data that attributed a 20-year increase of federal convictions to an exponential growth in sentencing Latino immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
The number of federal convictions in the United States has doubled in twenty years, specifically targeting immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border. In 2012, Latinos accounted for 92 percent of those charged and sentenced with the federal crime of reentry, according to a Pew Research report of United States Sentencing Commission data.
Unlawful reentry into the United States is a federal crime that wasn't always enforced. Before enforcement measures began in 2005, most immigrants stopped at the Mexican border were allowed to voluntarily return to Mexico. Now, measures include charging immigrants with a federal offense or instituting expedited removals that waive judicial review and sending people to distant ports far from where they were apprehended. Since 2005, the number of border apprehensions has decreased by half, yet conviction rates continued to rise.
In the past 20 years, the number of offenders sentenced for all federal crimes more than doubled as unlawful reetry convictions increased exponentially, accounting for nearly half of the growth. In 2012, immigration cases accounted for a third of federal convictions, more than firearm, fraud and violent offenses combined.
The increased convictions largely affected Latinos. In the past 20 years, the rate of Latinos sentenced for federal crimes grew from 23 percent to nearly half of all offenders.
The number of those without citizenship also doubled. Between 1998 and 2010, immigrant offenders accounted for half of the increase in federal prison admissions. In 2012, 68 percent of undocumented immigrants sentenced in federal courts were convicted of reentry and most of those cases were tried in one of five courts along the U.S.-Mexico border.