According to data released by the U.S. Justice Department, 41.7 percent of the federal criminal cases that U.S. attorneys filed in U.S. district courts in fiscal 2014 were in the five U.S. attorneys' districts that sit along the U.S.-Mexico border.
In fact, the five districts that sit along the border — those for Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Western Texas and Southern Texas — were the top five in the country for criminal cases filed in U.S. district courts.
The office of the U.S. attorney for Western Texas led the nation last year in filing criminal cases in U.S. district court, according to the United States Attorneys' Annual Statistical Report for Fiscal 2014.
During the fiscal year, according to Table 1 in the report, the U.S. attorney for Western Texas filed 5,832 criminal cases in U.S. district court.
By contrast, there are 17 U.S. attorneys' districts that sit in the lower 48 states along the Canadian border or the Great Lakes. These 17 districts, which run from the Western District of Washington to the District of Maine, filed a combined total of 5,257 criminal cases in U.S. district courts in fiscal 2014.
That means that all the federal criminal cases filed in the U.S. district courts spanning the Canadian border from Washington to Maine (5,257) did not equal the criminal cases (5,832) filed by the one U.S. attorney's office in Western Texas.
The office of the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, which is the eastern-most district along the U.S.-Mexico border, filed the second largest number of criminal cases in U.S. district court in fiscal 2014. The 5,517 criminal cases this office filed in U.S. district court also exceeded the 5,257 filed by all 17 districts from Washington to Maine.
Arizona (4,229), New Mexico (4,125) and Southern California (3,754) ranked third, fourth and fifth among the 93 U.S. attorneys' offices for the number of criminal cases filed in U.S. District Courts in fiscal 2014.
Together, the five U.S. attorneys' districts that span the U.S.-Mexico border filed 23,457 criminal cases in U.S. district courts in fiscal 2014. That equaled 41.7 percent of the 56,218 criminal cased that U.S. attorneys nationwide filed in U.S. district courts.
A similar pattern appears in the number of criminal defendants found guilty as a result of cases filed U.S. district courts in fiscal 2014.
During the year, according to Table 2A, the five districts along the U.S.-Mexico border were the top five in the nation for the number of defendants found guilty in U.S. district court.
The District of Western Texas was again No. 1, with 7,302 criminal defendants found guilty in U.S. district court. Southern Texas was second with 6,484. Arizona was third with 4,957. New Mexico was fourth with 4,392. And Southern California was fifth with 4,100.
The 27,235 criminal defendants found guilty in U.S. district courts in the five U.S. attorneys' districts along the U.S.-Mexico border equaled 36.6 percent of all 74,392 criminal defendants found guilty in all 93 U.S. attorneys' districts in fiscal 2014.
The U.S. attorneys also filed criminal charges against defendants in federal magistrate courts — as opposed to U.S. district courts.
"In addition to criminal cases brought before United States district judges, the United States Attorneys also handle a considerable criminal caseload before United States magistrate judges," explained the U.S. attorneys' statistical report for fiscal 2013. "The utilization of magistrate judges varies from district to district in response to local conditions and changing caseloads."
"Magistrate judges are authorized by statute to perform a variety of duties as assigned by the United States district judges, including presiding over misdemeanor trials, conducting preliminary hearings, and entering rulings or recommended dispositions on pretrial motions," said the report.
In fiscal 2014, according to the Table 2B, 67,401 criminal defendants were determined to be guilty in magistrate proceedings. Of those, 63,253 — or 93.8 percent — were in the five districts along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Southern Texas (24,455), Arizona (23,446), and Western Texas (14,379) were the top three districts for criminal defendants found guilty in magistrate proceedings.
Obviously, the offenses people are convicted of in federal courts are not local crimes but federal ones. According to the statistical report's Table 3A, the top category of offense for those found guilty in U.S. district courts nationwide in fiscal 2014 was immigration offenses. 23,871 defendants nationwide were found guilty of those. 23,387 were found guilty of drug offenses. 12,617 were found guilty of violent crime.
It is a fair conclusion from the Justice Department's data that if the federal government does not enforce our southern border, it must do much more to enforce our federal laws just north of it.