- The Washington Times - Monday, September 23, 2002

McALLEN, Texas The number of people prosecuted in federal court nationwide for immigration offenses more than doubled between 1996 and 2000.
Federal officials attribute the rise to a dramatic increase in the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents.
According to a report by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of immigration prosecutions climbed from 6,605 in 1996 to a record 15,613 in 2000.
Nearly three-fourths of the cases in 2000 involved persons charged with unlawfully entering or re-entering the United States.
About 20 percent of the prosecutions targeted alien smugglers and another 5 percent related to charges tied to the misuse of visas.
Seventy percent of the cases were brought in five states: Texas, California, Arizona, New York and Florida.
"I think what you're seeing is a byproduct of the increased levels of enforcement both at the ports of entry and between the ports of entry along the Southwest border," said U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service spokesman Russ Bergeron.
"More inspectors and more Border Patrol agents mean more apprehensions of individuals violating criminal provisions of federal law," he said. "That results in more prosecutions."
A 1996 law authorized the INS which oversees the Border Patrol to increase hiring. Nearly 70 percent of the new hires were Border Patrol agents.
Of those prosecuted in 2000 for immigration violations, 50 percent were charged with re-entering the country illegally, 25 percent with improper entry, 20 percent with alien smuggling and 5 percent with misusing visas or other immigration violations.
More than two-thirds of those charged had histories of arrests, and 36 percent of them had five or more prior arrests.
Ninety-six percent of those charged with immigration violations were convicted when prosecuted in the federal courts.
Of those charged, 57 percent were Mexican nationals, 7 percent were U.S. citizens, 3 percent were Chinese and 33 percent had other nationalities.
Eighty-seven percent of the Mexican nationals and 93 percent of the Chinese nationals were charged with illegal entry or re-entry. Sixty-four percent of the U.S. citizens were charged with alien smuggling.

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