EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — Non-citizens made up more than half of all federal arrests in the U.S. in 2018, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced Thursday.
The report shows that 64 percent of all federal arrests in 2018 involved non-citizens. In 1998, non-citizens made up 37 percent of all federal arrests.
The numbers are outlined in the report “Immigration, Citizenship, and the Federal Justice System, 1998-2018,” which was was written by BJS statistician Mark Motivans. The Bureau of Justice Statistics of the U.S. Department of Justice is the federal agency responsible for “collecting, analyzing and disseminating reliable statistics on crime and criminal justice in the United States,” according to a news release. Jeffrey H. Anderson is the director.
Thursday’s report shows that from 1998 to 2018, federal arrests of non-citizens more than tripled, rising 234 percent. In that period, the rate of Mexican citizens arrested by federal law enforcement rose from 28 percent to 40 percent, while the rate of Central Americans arrested on federal charges rose from 1 percent to 20 percent.
In those two decades, federal arrests of Central Americans rose from 1,171 in 1998 to 39,858 in 2018, a more than 30-fold increase. Meanwhile, the share of federal arrests involving U.S. citizens fell from 63 percent to 36 percent. In 2018, U.S. federal law enforcement arrested more Mexicans than U.S. citizens, 78,062 to 70,542 respectively.
The number of arrests along the U.S. border has also shot in up in the past 20 years, the report shows. The judicial districts of Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Western Texas, and Southern Texas, which represent five out of 94 judicial districts nationwide, saw federal arrests almost double, increasing from 33 percent to 65 percent. Additionally, the number of Central Americans arrested in these five districts almost tripled in one year, rising from 13,549 in 2017 to 37,590 in 2018, and a quarter of all 2018 federal drug arrests took place in these five districts, the report states.
The report also highlights a drastic increase in immigration crimes in 20 years, going from 20,942 in 1998 to 108,667 in 2018. In one year alone, from 2017 to 2018, federal immigration arrests rose by more than 50,000. The report states that 85 percent of federal arrests of non-citizens in 2018 were for immigration offenses, and another 5 percent of arrests were immigration-related.
Non-citizens, according to the report, were most likely to be prosecuted in U.S. district court for illegal reentry, drugs, fraud, alien smuggling, or misuse of visas. U.S. citizens were most likely to be prosecuted in U.S. district court for drugs, weapons, fraud, public order, or alien smuggling. Of suspects prosecuted in U.S. district court in 2018, 57 percent were U.S. citizens and 43 percent were non-U.S. citizens.