Immigration crimes account for stunning percentage of federal arrests

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The percentage of arrests by federal law enforcement for immigration crimes has reached an all-time high, while the number of drug and firearms arrests is on the decline.

Data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics analyzed by the Pew Research Center revealed that the federal government made 165,265 total arrests in 2014, and 50 percent were for offenses related to immigration—up 22 percent since 2004.

Conversely, the number of drug and firearms arrests has declined during the last decade, with the percentage of federal arrests from narcotics crimes dropping from 23 percent in 2004 to 14 percent in 2014. During the same period, gun arrests fell from 7 percent to 4 percent.

With the share of immigration arrests on the rise, policing immigration crime has become more onerous. Responsibility for federal crimes involving the illegal crossing of people and contraband across the U.S. border falls on The Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to the Pew report, DHS became the government’s top arresting agency in 2007, surpassing the Department of Justice.

The DHS has grown rapidly over the past ten years, and the percentage of immigration arrests align with that growth. Pew reported that Customs and Border Protection, the agency responsible for the U.S. Border Patrol, experienced large increases in staffing during the mid-to-late 2000s. The number of Border Patrol agents rose from 10,819 to 20,558 from 2004 to 2010.

According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, federal law enforcement of all categories of crime has become focused on offenses by non-citizens along the U.S.-Mexico border.

The percent of all federal arrests of non-U.S. citizens jumped from 43 percent in 2004 to 61 percent in 2014, while the share of arrests of U.S. citizens dropped to 39 percent from 57 percent ten years before.

The Daily Caller reports that “A disproportionate amount of arrests took place in areas near the southern border. Just five federal judicial districts bordering Mexico–one each in Arizona, California, and New Mexico, plus two in Texas–accounted for 61 percent of all federal arrests , regardless of crime category. Those districts produced 40 percent of federal arrests in 2004.”

The Pew analysis noted that arrest numbers for immigration offenses—including crimes such as illegal border crossing and human smuggling—are not the same as migrant apprehensions or deportations.

Apprehensions can include both civil and criminal violations, and involve foreign nationals being caught in the U.S. without proper documentation. Pew noted that arrests are cases in which people are charged with criminal violations of federal immigration laws.

H/T: The Daily Caller

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