Following months of record-breaking border problems, the Justice Department says that it prosecuted a record number of immigration-related crimes over the course of the past fiscal year.
In a Friday morning news release, the Justice Department said that its United States attorneys’ offices “prosecuted the highest number of immigration-related offenses since record keeping began more than 25 years ago” over the course of fiscal year 2019, which ended in September. The department also says that the new numbers “successfully reverse the trend in previous years of declining prosecutions” for a list of offenses.
The DOJ numbers say that federal prosecutors charged 25,426 defendants with felony re-entry charges, showing an 8.5 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. Additionally, misdemeanor improper entry charges increased 18.1 percent over the previous year at 80,866, and there was a 15.4 percent increase in federal alien smuggling charges at 4,297.
Charts showing prosecution numbers for the three federal crimes going back to 2004 show considerable decreases in alien smuggling, improper entry, and illegal re-entry charges towards the end of the Obama administration, with increases in the years after President Donald Trump took office.
“These record-breaking numbers are a testament to the dedication of our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices throughout the nation, especially our Southwest border offices,” Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen said of the statistics. “In addition to the usual workload of each case the Department prosecutes, this effort was made possible after our U.S. Attorneys’ Offices restored essential partnerships with national, state and local law-enforcement partners.”
Last week, the DOJ also said its immigration courts had made “unprecedented” efforts to the to deal with the large workload of immigration cases resulting from the crisis at America’s southern border by hiring new immigration judges and completing 275,000 cases over the previous fiscal year. But despite these efforts, a department official said at the time of the announcement, “the nearly one million case backlog will continue to grow unless Congress acts to address the crisis at the border.”