Law & the Courts

Immigration Offenses Topped List of Federal Crimes in FY 2018

Border Patrol agents arrest migrants who crossed the border near Ajo, Ariz., September 11, 2018. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)

Immigration offenses became the biggest category of federal crime in fiscal year 2018, surpassing the number of drug offenses.

Crimes relating to immigration comprised 34.4 percent of all federal sentencing cases, an increase from last year’s 30 percent, according to the United States Sentencing Commission’s annual report. While the vast majority of crimes in the U.S., including most violent crimes, are dealt with at the state level, immigration offenses stand out as as category under the purview of federal authorities.

96.3 percent of the 23,883 immigration cases recorded in the report involved Hispanics, 92.7 percent of them male. Approximately 94.7 percent of the cases led to prison sentences, and 13,500 led to supervised release. Only 866 cases involved a defendant under 21 years old.

“In fiscal year 2018, 54.3 percent of all offenders were Hispanic, 21.2 percent were white, 20.6 percent were black, and 3.8 percent were of another race. Non-U.S. citizens accounted for 42.7 percent of all federal offenders,” the report stated.

Drug offenses were the second most common type of federal crime in fiscal year 2018, at 28.1 percent of all cases. Firearms offenses placed third at 10.8 percent and fraud-related crimes came fourth at 9.5 percent.

The new numbers coincide with an increasing flood of migrants at the southern border, including a record number of families in March, a crisis the Trump administration has attempted to address with its “no tolerance” policy for those who cross the border between ports of entry.

Earlier this month, the White House asked Congress for $4.5 billion in emergency funds to deal with the crisis, including $3.3 billion for humanitarian assistance and $1.1 billion for law-enforcement operations. Democrats have objected to the request, but the White House Budget Office has warned that the Office of Refugee Resettlement and other programs are at risk of running out of funding by the beginning of the summer.

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