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Judicial Watch • Immigration Cases Create Federal Court Crisis

Immigration Cases Create Federal Court Crisis

Immigration Cases Create Federal Court Crisis

Judicial Watch


Nearly half of federal court cases tried in the first 11 months of the year involved illegal immigration and a chunk of federal prisoners have been convicted of violating immigration laws, representing a colossal expense for U.S. taxpayers.

The nation’s federal courts are overwhelmed with staggering immigration caseloads that have cost Americans tens of millions of dollars, depleted the system and heavily burdened jails across the country. The daunting statistics are documented in a multiple-part investigative series (Deportation Nation) published by an Ohio newspaper this month.

The yearlong probe also reveals that deported illegal immigrants return to the U.S. repeatedly and that many state prisoners charged with serious crimes—including drug and sex-related offenses—routinely use deportation to avoid criminal prosecution. Virtually all are immediately freed in their native countries and many return to the U.S., according to authorities quoted in the series.

Reporters cite alarming figures provided by the nonprofit Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), a data research center that provides detailed information about the operation of hundreds of federal agencies. In one recent month alone, the number of federal criminal immigration convictions increased by more than 60% over the same period five years ago, according to the figures.

As of last month around 11% of all federal inmates were serving time for violating immigration laws and U.S. taxpayers dish out about $24,000 annually to keep them in prison. The largest number of cases involved illegally entering the United States, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail for a first-time offender.

Deporting illegal aliens isn’t cheap either. The average deportation cost taxpayers more than $6,000 in 2010, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) figures cited in the series. The amount Americans spend annually to detain and deport immigrants increased by more than 100 percent since 2005, to $2.55 billion in 2010. During the same period, the number of people deported more than doubled to nearly 400,000.

Other media outlets have also reported on the crisis that illegal aliens have created in the nation’s federal court and prison system. Earlier this month a Georgia newspaper revealed that the state had only four judges to hear what it referred to as a “whopping 6,601” immigration cases. In hopes of shrinking “a massive and costly backlog of deportation cases,” two more judges were recently hired.

Earlier in the year TRAC published a report on the unprecedented backlog in U.S. immigration courts, an all-time high of 228,421 cases in the first months of the fiscal year alone. That represents an increase of 82% from 10 years ago and 23% since 2008. California (63,539), New York (42,256) and Texas (26,957) lead the nation with the biggest backlogs.


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