While a a significant improvement over the situation a decade earlier, this still means that about four in ten illegal aliens caught by USBP did not.
“The ratio of aliens facing enforcement with consequences relative to USBP apprehensions increased from 1% in 1999 to 58% in 2010,” stated a January 2012 CRS report, entitled Border Security: Immigration Enforcement Between Ports of Entry.”
“The number of immigration-related criminal cases more than tripled between 1999 and 2010 (from 28,764 to 84,388 cases), and USBP removals increased fourteen-fold from 12,867 to 189,653,” the CRS reported.
The report said that “enforcement with consequences” has been “an additional component of DHS’ approach to border control over the last several years.”
“Unauthorized aliens apprehended at the border may face federal immigration charges, but historically, most have not been charged with a crime,” it explained.
“Historically,” the report said, unauthorized Mexican aliens apprehended at the southwest border were returned with “minimal processing.” In the case of non-Mexicans, apprehended authorized aliens were “allowed to remain at large in the United States pending a formal deportation or removal hearing.”
Since 2005, the CRS said, the Department of Homeland Security – which oversees Customs and Border Protection and CBP’s Border Patrol agency – put in place policies aimed at “raising the costs to migrants of being apprehended to make it more difficult for illegal migrants to reconnect with smugglers following a failed entry attempt, thereby discouraging people who have been apprehended from making subsequent efforts to enter the United States illegally.”
Elements of the “enforcement with consequences” approach include the use of expedited removals – where aliens are removed without having to come before an immigration judge – and the 2005 initiative to end the controversial “catch and release” policy.
“Historically, most non-Mexicans apprehended at the border were placed in formal deportation or removal proceedings prior to being returned to their country of origin by airplane,” explained the CRS.
“[B]ut backlogs in the immigration court system meant that most such aliens were released on bail or on their own recognizance with an order to reappear at a later date, and many failed to show up for their hearings.”
Another initiative, Operation Streamline, allows the CBP to work with U.S. Attorneys and district judges in border communities to speed up judicial proceedings, by allowing “up to 40 criminal defendants to have their cases heard at the same time, rather than requiring judges to review individual charges.”
Under the program, aliens facing felony charges for illegal re-entry are in most cases allowed to plead guilty to misdemeanor illegal entry charges – a plea bargain that helps to resolve cases speedily.
Yet another initiative is a 2005 U.S.-Mexican agreement which provides for some Mexican smuggling suspects apprehended in the U.S. to be returned to Mexico to be prosecuted and, if convicted, imprisoned there, the CRS report said.
Two other initiatives are:
--The Alien Transfer Exit Program: certain Mexicans apprehended near the border are repatriated to border ports hundreds of miles away, usually moving people from Arizona to Texas or California.
--The Mexican Interior Repatriation Program: certain Mexican illegals are repatriated to their home towns inside Mexico rather than being returned just across the border.
Under what is known as a “Consequence Delivery System,” every apprehended illegal is evaluated with the aim of identifying the consequences that will be most likely to deter further illegal activity.
Border Patrol agents carry laminated cards that describe the range of enforcement actions available for a particular alien, taking into account factors like the person’s immigration and criminal histories.
The Consequence Delivery System aims to ensure that virtually every apprehended illegal alien faces “some type of consequence,” among them criminal charges and formal removal, the report says, citing public comments by CBP commissioner Alan Bersin.