Photo courtesy of woodleywonderworks via Flickr. Modified by Curiousmatic.

Thousands Of Illegal Immigrants Each Year Face Jail Time Before Deportation

Every year, the U.S prosecutes tens of of thousands of migrants, many of them guilty of no other crime than crossing the U.S. border.

Almost 100,000 people were sentenced to prison in the financial year 2013 on charges of illegal entry or re-entry, according to Syracuse University.

Update 12/6/2013 - Almost 100,000 people deported in 2013; SAFE act threatens to criminalize illegals further.

A total of 97,384 immigrants were prosecuted on charges of illegal entry or re-entry, according to Syracuse University’s federal oversight program TRAC. An accompanying chart shows how criminal prosecution for re-entry has risen sharply in the last 20 years:


The prosecution rates for these crimes are up 1,400% and 300% respectively over the last 10 years, according to Human Rights Watch

Offenders serve anything from a few days to more than 10 years in crowded federal prisons – with a median sentence is 19 months – where they make up 30% of the the prisoners.

After serving their sentence, the illegal immigrants are deported.

In 2011, 46% of the illegal entry offenders had only misdemeanor or no criminal charges in the past, according to Human Rights Watch.

Illegal entry is a misdemeanor charge, while re-entry is considered a felony. Here’s how the two convictions have increased over the last decade:


Chart courtesy of Syracuse University via Human Rights Watch, typeface modified by Curiousmatic.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over half of the immigration cases were finished on the same day they were received.

HRW says these “rapid-fire trial groups” violate due process because the defendants are not adequately represented.

This is part of a trend of moving immigration offenses from the civil to the criminal justice system, putting a burden on already crowded institutions, the organization says.

There are no concrete figures how much this costs the U.S. taxpayer, but a simplistic analysis suggests that at an incarceration cost of about $26,000 per capita, with a population of around 60,000 (30% of the total 220,000 federal inmates), the total cost of incarcerating the current immigration offenders was roughly $1.7 billion.

Ole Skaar