NPR Story
7:12 am
Thu May 23, 2013

Report: Immigration Prosecutions On Dramatic Rise

In 2012, more than 80,000 immigrants were convicted of illegal entry and reentry into the United States, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch.

The 82-page report "Turning Migrants into Criminals," highlights that in about 10 years, immigration prosecutions for both illegal entry and reentry have dramatically increased — from more than 12,500 in 2002 to more than 85,000 in 2013.

In a decade, more immigrants have been prosecuted for immigration violations without having any prior convictions. As the Los Angeles Times points out “a misdemeanor conviction for illegal entry is now enough to trigger a felony prosecution if the person is caught trying to enter the country a second time.”

In 2002, 42 percent of those prosecuted for illegal entry offenses had prior convictions, like violent crimes or trafficking. And 17 percent had no prior conviction.

But by 2011, the number of entry offenders with similar prior convictions dropped to 27 percent, while those without prior convictions rose to 27 percent.

According to the 2012 U.S. Attorney’s Statistical Report, during the 2012 fiscal year immigration cases filed far exceeded all others:

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