According to data obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), the total of federal filings for immigrant prosecutions reached a new high during the past month. Capped by the 11,454 prosecutions recorded in September 2008, such a staggering number represents an increase of more than 700% from the same month seven years ago (September 2001). This massive increase in yearly immigrant filings means the total number of all prosecutions brought by the federal government reached their all-time high last year of 155,694. By comparison, there were 82,071 filings in fiscal year 1998 and 60,421 in fiscal year 1988.
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The extraordinarily abrupt shift in government enforcement policy is highlighted by the following data. During 2001, the first year of the Bush Administration, the proportion of cases categorized as involving immigration violations was 18% of federal filings - similar to the proportion in the final years of the Clinton Administration. By fiscal year 2004, the first year of Bush's second term, that proportion had increased to over 31%. In the just-ended fiscal year 2008, however, immigration filings leapfrogged to 51% of the total.
The worst of this prosecution epidemic occurred in five federal districts strung out along the border with Mexico. In Texas South (Houston), Arizona (Phoenix), New Mexico (Albuquerque), Texas West (San Antonio), and California South (San Diego), the largest proportion of federal immigrant prosecutions occurred. The federal districts with the highest proportion of immigration prosecution cases were both in Texas: Texas West (98.7%) and Texas South (91.4%).
Hidden in this unusual surge of both overall and immigration prosecution numbers, are areas of decline:
White-collar crime prosecutions were down by more than 15% since the waning years of the Clinton Administration. Individual narcotics filings also have slumped during the Bush years.