Immigration offenders jam federal court in NM
Published: May 14, 2016
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Executive Directors Judy Greene, of Justice Strategies, and Bob Libal, of Grassroots Leadership, offer insights into federal court felony prosecution of immigrants for illegal entry and re-entry in New Mexico in the attached Alququerque Journal article. The number of people apprehended for crossing the border illegally has fallen eighty percent in fifteen years. However, though fewer people illegally cross the border today, those who are apprehended are more likely to be prosecuted and jailed. Illegal entry and re-entry prosecutions, especially along the border, have skyrocketed in the last twenty years. From 2011 to 2015 alone, immigration cases in the New Mexico's federal courts have increased by eighty percent. New Mexico charges nearly one hundred percent of re-entry cases as felonies, and does not allow defendants to plea down to a lesser charge.
Recent studies suggest that immigrants who have children or relatives in the U.S. are unlikely to be dissuaded by repeated apprehensions, jail time or deportation. A 2015 study of eighteen thousand illegal re-entry cases by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found that half of offenders had at least one child living in the United States at the time of their apprehension. More than two-thirds had relatives other than children in the U.S.