Federal immigration arrests double over 10 years

ASBURY PARK, N.J. — Federal authorities are making more immigration arrests than they did a decade ago, according to the latest data from the Department of Justice.

The March 2017 report, the latest year for which the numbers are available, sheds light on federal arrests on immigration-related crimes, such as entering the country illegally or smuggling someone else into the country. Such violations are handled through the U.S. Attorney's Office rather than through Immigration Customs and Enforcement, which has a separate tally of immigration arrests.

Nationwide, federal authorities, including law enforcement agencies under the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security, made 165,265 arrests in 2014. Just under half, or 81,881 of those arrests, were immigration-related. Back in 2004, there were roughly 40,000 immigration arrests, accounting for 28% of all federal arrests that year.

A Pew Research Center analysis of the DOJ report published this week says that while the 2014 data don't necessarily reflect current patterns, they show an increased focus on immigration offenses. Over the past decade, the Department of Homeland Security has become the lead arresting agency, instead of the Department of Justice. Customs and Border Patrol made more arrests in 2014 than ATF, FBI, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service combined.

Meanwhile, federal arrests for weapon, drug and property-related offenses decreased in that same 10-year period. Arrests for sexual offenses slightly increased over the past several years.

In fiscal year 2014, federal agents made 23,703 drug arrests, 3,447 sex arrests and 6,984 weapons arrests. In New Jersey, there were 186 federal drug arrests, 67 federal weapons arrests and 30 federal sex arrests.

Here are some other details from the DOJ report:

  • Federal law enforcement made 165,265 arrests in 2014. That's 12% fewer than in 2013 but still more than double the number in 1994.
  • About 61% of federal arrests were made within five federal judicial districts near the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014, and 39% of these offenders sentenced to federal prison. The arrests include immigration, weapon, drug, sex and property offenses.
  • Ninety-three percent of immigration arrests occurred in five districts along the U.S.-Mexico border with the busiest district being Tucson, Arizona. There were 17,731 arrests there in 2014. Laredo, Texas followed with 15,207 immigration arrests.
  • In 2014, 38% of public offenders handled federal departments charged in U.S. district court. The report didn't have numbers on how many of those suspects were facing immigration charges.
  • In 2014, 83% of defendants charged with immigration, weapons, drug or violent crimes were more than likely to be detained before trial. 

© 2017 USA TODAY


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