Immigration prosecutions more than double in last four years

NY Times:

Federal prosecutions for immigration violations more than doubled in the last four years, surpassing drugs as the most frequently pursued federal crime, according to new data released Wednesday by a private research group. The change reflects a major shift in priorities since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Immigration prosecutions surged to 38,000 last year from 16,300 in 2001, as federal authorities mounted a crackdown on illegal immigration as a way of deterring terrorism, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a research group connected to Syracuse University that compiled the data.


The study, analyzing half a million federal prosecutions, offers perhaps the firmest evidence to date of the refocusing of federal law enforcement priorities since the Sept. 11 attacks toward illegal immigration, terrorism-related offenses and gun crimes and away from drugs and white-collar crime. Prosecutions for white-collar crime dropped to 7,000 cases last year from 9,500 in 2001, the study found.

"This is a substantial shift any way you measure it," said David Burnham, co-director of the research group, which collects and analyzes federal data on law enforcement and financial issues. "We're seeing choices being made by United States attorneys and by the president about what's important and what's not, and clearly, the administration has changed the priorities of the federal law enforcement machine."


The new numbers from the Syracuse group bear out the trend. The number of cases brought by the Justice Department related to terrorism rose to nearly 800 last year from 115 in 2001....


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