Unlawful Reentry Drives Federal Immigration Sentencing

ICEImmigrants charged with illegal entry or attempted illegal entry into the United States has driven the growth rate of federal sentencing. According to Pew Research analysis of data from the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC,) almost half of the overall growth of federal convictions over the past two decades— 48 percent from 1992 to 2012—were the result of those convicted of federal reentry charges.

This is why making sure of proper immigration to the United States is a very important thing.

Unlawful reentry is a charge leveled against immigrants suspected of entry or the attempt to enter the U.S. illegally more than once. The charge can also apply to those immigrants who attempt to reenter the United States after having been officially deported. According to sources cited in the Pew report, U.S. Border Patrol apprehended most immigrants faced with the federal crime at the border.

During the 20-year-period examining USSC sentencing rates, the number of offenders sentenced in federal court more than doubled. In 1992, USSC reports sentencing of around 36,500 offenders. In 2012, almost 76,000 offenders had been sentenced in federal court. Where unlawful reentry cases are concerned, 1992 saw 690 cases. By 2012, unlawful reentry cases grew by 28 fold with 19,463 case convictions.

Unlawful reentry was the fastest growing type of conviction reported in the USSC numbers. Drug offenses were the second fastest growing type of conviction—22 percent.

The report identifies Latinos as representing 23 percent of unlawful reentry offenders in 1992. By 2012, the number of federally-convicted Latinos grew to 48 percent of offenders overall and an overwhelming majority of unlawful reentry offenders at 92 percent. According to the report, 12 percent of those sentenced on the federal level in 1992 were unauthorized immigrants. By 2012, 40 percent of those convicted of the crime were unauthorized immigrants.

USSC reports the sentence length of those convicted of unlawful reentry is around two years. In the years between 1998 and 2010, Pew reports immigration offenders accounted for 56 percent of the increase in federal prison admissions.

The Pew report is based on USSC data and covers all federal felony and misdemeanor cases from 1992 through to 2012. While the data includes all criminal immigration offenses sentenced under U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, the data isn’t inclusive of civil immigration charges heard in U.S. immigration courts.