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Despite Rise in Felony Charges, Most Immigration Convictions Remain Misdemeanors

Convictions for the petty offense of illegal entry continue to dominate the criminal enforcement of federal immigration laws, according to a new analysis by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) of case-by case records from the Justice Department. During the first six months of fiscal year 2014, two out of three immigration convictions — 24,647 out of a total of 36,256 — were for illegal entry (8 USC 1325). This ratio is little changed from the pattern of the last decade, even though during this recent six-month period more people were charged with the more serious felony offense of illegal re-entry. Half of these cases, however, were pled down to a petty misdemeanor for simple illegal entry. There is also a great deal of variability in charging and plea bargaining practices from district to district. In most districts, those charged with illegal re-entry do end up convicted of this offense. But in Arizona the opposite is true. For more details on convictions for both illegal entry and re-entry, see the report here.”

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