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Publication Immigration Offenders in the Federal Criminal Justice System, 2000

John Scalia, Marika F.X. Litras, Ph.D., Bureau of Justice Statistics

August 6, 2002    NCJ 191745

Describes the number of immigration offenders prosecuted in the Federal court between 1985 and 2000. The report examines the impact of the enactment of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act of 1986 on prosecutions. This act authorized increases in INS law enforcement activities and personnel and required longer sentences for immigration offenders with serious criminal histories. The report includes the number of persons evaluated for prosecution by the U.S. Attorneys, the nationality of persons investigated, characteristics and criminal histories of defendants, trends in prosecutions of immigration offenders, defendants adjudicated, and immigration offenders under correctional supervision. The data in the report are from the BJS Federal Justice Statistics Program.


  • The number of defendants prosecuted for an immigration offense rose from 6,605 in 1996 to 15,613 in 2000.
  • Average time to be served by immigration offenders entering Federal prison increased from about 4 months in 1986 to 21 months in 2000.
  • 57% of suspected immigration offenders were Mexican citizens; 7%, U.S. citizens; 3%, Chinese; and 28%, all other nationalities.

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