Latino News and Opinion

Historic Record In Criminal Prosecution of Immigration Cases
Por Daniel Maldonado - AL DIA NEWS   
10:39 | 07/12/10
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President Obama’s 18-month record of immigrant detention, criminal prosecution and deportation.

Lee la versión en español

Una prolongada campaña se vislumbra en el horizonte, tanto en las elecciones primarias como en las generales.

“What do agency actions indicate about the priorities and practices of government?” asked Syracuse University TRAC criminal prosecution data gathering, in its statement of purpose.

The federal government’s activity by March 2010 reflects that more than half  (52 percent) of all criminal prosecutions were for immigration, “the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325 involving “Entry of alien at improper time or place”…[and Section] 1326 Reentry of deported alien” as reported Syracuse University TRAC.  

The bulk of prosecutions in immigration far surpass the federal government’s investigative and law enforcement efforts dealing with other crimes such as drug-trafficking (12 percent) and all other violent crimes (36 percent), according to figures compiled for March 2010.

Following the same logic of an all-out war on undocumented immigration TRAC found there is a 162 percent overall increase in the number of immigration-related offenses reported since 2005, these include filings before Magistrate Courts (for petty offenses) and Federal District Courts.

Which of all federal government agencies is filing the majority of all immigration cases? The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by 99 percent.

All other agencies such as the FBI, DEA and the State Department consecrated to investigate and prosecute violent crimes that challenge national security and public order, have submitted altogether less than 1 percent of all immigration offenses.

“I directed my Secretary of Homeland Security …to improve our enforcement policy without having to wait for a new law” stated President Obama on July 1, taking personal credit for the main prosecutorial focus of the federal government on immigration.

When the federal government treated as an “aggravated felony” of supposed “drug trafficking” a mere possession of one tablet of Xanax without prescription, the U.S. Supreme Court questioned the government’s resort to “unorthodox” and “counterintuitive” interpretations of the law in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder Attorney General.

The U.S. Supreme Court wondered about a government incapable of distinguishing a petty offense from aggravated felonies typically worsened “by circumstances such as violence, the presence of a deadly weapon, or the intent to commit another crime,” generally absent from the majority of undocumented immigration cases.

“Ambiguities in criminal statutes referenced in immigration laws should be construed in the noncitizen’s favor,” opined the Supreme Court providing a fundamental principle that would significantly deflate today’s criminal prosecutorial fever of immigration cases.

“We must be very wary of the Government’s position,” further stated the Supreme Court frankly disappointed even with the distorting of the English language by the federal government in its effort to prosecute and remove even legal resident immigrants.

“The federal government prioritizes for arrest, detention, prosecution, and removal of those aliens who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety” affirmed the Department of Justice in this week’s complaint filed against Arizona’s S.B. 1070 law.

Is the Obama administration forthcoming in its assertions of prioritizing the prosecution of dangerous criminals and not non-violent immigrants? 

The Department of Justice seems to think so, yet the DHS through its Office of Detention and Removal Operations was haranguing last February its directors to “keep up the good work on criminal alien removals…and to increase the number of…non-criminal fugitive alien arrests,” per a memo obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.

A federal government intent on an enforcement only approach to immigration, unwilling or incapable of prioritizing dangerous crimes over undocumented immigration is already wearily regarded by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the by the Hispanic immigrant community at large.

 

 

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