(CNSNews.com) – The number of criminal prosecutions for ilegal entry into the United States is up 7.7 percent for the first eight months of Fiscal Year 2016, but prosecutions for illegal re-entry are down 8.4 percent, according to the latest figures from the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The figures, which were obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), show that DOJ prosecuted a total of 25,680 people who illegally entered the U.S. so far this year.
"If the pace of criminal prosecutions during the first eight months of FY 2016 continue at the same rate, the annual number of prosecutions for illegal entry will total 38,520 for this fiscal year," TRAC noted. "According to case-by-case information analyzed by TRAC, this estimate is up 7.7 percent over the past fiscal year when the number of illegal entry prosecutions totaled 35,770."
The top five districts for illegal entry prosecutions in 2016 are: South Texas (15,152); West Texas (9,548); Arizona (591); Southern California (189); and New Mexico (108).
Another 20,628 individuals were also prosecuted for illegal re-entry so far this year, according to TRAC.
That number “will total 30,942 for this fiscal year, assuming the same pace continues for the rest of FY 2016. This would represent an 8.4 percent decline from the past fiscal year when the number of illegal re-entry prosecutions totaled 33,795.”
The top five districts for illegal re-entry prosecutions are: Arizona (8,843); New Mexico (3,278); South Texas (2,674); West Texas (2,412); and Southern California (905).
Although the San Ysidro Land Point of Entry south of San Diego is one of the busiest border crossings in the world, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), the Southern District of California did not have the highest number of illegal entry or re-entry prosecutions, DOJ figures show.
"For the first eight months of the current fiscal year, the Southern District of Texas (Houston) and the Western District of Texas (San Antonio) accounted for 96 percent of the country's total of 25,680 illegal entry prosecutions. Arizona and New Mexico together accounted for less than 3 percent of this total," TRAC stated.
"In contrast, during the same period illegal re-entry prosecutions were concentrated in Arizona and New Mexico," accounting for "59 percent of the country's total of 20,628 illegal re-entry prosecutions during the first eight months of fiscal year 2016," TRAC continued. "The Southern and Western District of Texas were far behind with only 25 percent between them."
Compared to 20 years ago, prosecutions for illegal entry and illegal re-entry have skyrocketed 6,407 percent and 668 percent respectively, according to TRAC.
Under federal law (8 U.S. Code 1325), illegal entry into the United States is a misdemeanor punishable by six months in prison and a civil penalty of at least $50 for the first offense.
However, illegal re-entry is a felony punishable by up to two years in jail and a civil penalty of $250 for a second offense.
Under another section of the law, any non-citizen, including someone in the U.S. on a visa or green card, who has been convicted of an aggravated felony is subject to deportation.
According to the 2014 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics, which was just released this month by the Office of Immigration Statistics at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), a total of 679,996 aliens were apprehended in 2014.
The largest number were from Mexico (350,177); Honduras (106,928); Guatemala (97,151); and El Salvador (79,321).
A total of 414,481 aliens were ordered removed from the U.S. in 2014. “Removals are the compulsory and confirmed movement of an inadmissible or deportable alien out of the United States based on an order of removal,” DHS explained.
Of that number, 167,740 were criminals, most of whom were from Mexico (121,750); Honduras (13,980); Guatemala (13,698); and El Salvador (8,961).