Federal arrests of noncitizens have jumped over 200% in the last 20 years and now account for 64% of those arrested, according to the Justice Department.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics said that federal arrests of non-Americans rose 234% from 1998-2018. For U.S. citizens, the percentage rose just 10% over those 20 years.
The newly released statistics feed the Trump administration’s narrative that an increase in immigration, especially illegal immigration, has fed a spike in crime.
Immigration expert Jessica M. Vaughan said the increase in arrests is due to increasing prosecution of illegal entry and re-entry by migrants. “Experience has taught the immigration agencies and DOJ that this works to reduce recidivism – in other words, when illegal crossers face some more severe consequence than just being sent back home, they don’t keep doing it,” she explained.
Over that 20-year period, groups such as MS-13 have surged, first in urban areas and recently into rural communities, and drug and human trafficking have also increased over the U.S.-Mexico border.
Justice was very pointed in comparing U.S. citizens arrested to noncitizens. For example, it noted that while they make up just 7% of the U.S. population, noncitizens account for 15% of the arrests by federal authorities, 24% of drug arrests, 25% of federal property arrests, including 28% of all federal fraud arrests.
Also over that period, illegal immigration has surged off and on and the bureau said that immigration crimes account for the bulk of arrests. In the past, Department of Homeland Security authorities have accounted for a majority of the arrests.
“20 years, 95% of the increase in federal arrests was due to immigration crimes. From 1998 to 2018, federal immigration arrests increased 5-fold (from 20,942 to 108,667), rising more than 50,000 in one year from 2017 to 2018,” said the Justice Department.
Vaughan, the director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, said that the statistics and types of crimes disprove claims by pro-immigration advocates that illegal immigrants aren’t involved in crimes.
“Opponents of immigration enforcement are obsessed with trying to establish that illegal aliens and legal immigrants commit fewer crimes than Americans, and so, as their narrative goes, local law enforcement agencies should not cooperate with ICE and should adopt sanctuary policies. This is first of all not true, but is off-point and a dangerous conclusion. What these numbers show is that there are certain types of crime that are disproportionately associated with illegal aliens: drug trafficking, certain gang crimes, and identity theft and document fraud,” she told Secrets.