Hispanics and Federal-State Crime in Tennessee
Illegal aliens are a main force behind the interstate drug trade in the region. They also have driven up crime rates across the region as reported by the Times-News June 9th, 2009:
The Sullivan County Sheriff's Office has arrested a man and seized drugs, cars and a large amount of cash from a Kingsport residence. SCSO vice detectives went to 413 Mullins St., just after midnight in order to seize a car after an investigation that began in March when the SCSO started conducting several drug buys in response to information about alleged drug activity there, according to SCSO Chief Deputy Lisa Christian.
When they arrived, a strong marijuana smell coming from the residence prompted them to ask for permission to search it. When the occupants refused, vice officers returned with a search warrant. Officers found four grams of cocaine, 1.4-oz. of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and $10,787 in cash. The drugs and cash were seized along with a 2000 Chevrolet Malibu, 1998 Pontiac Grand Am, two flat screen TVs and several large tires and two rims.
From the Pew Hispanic Center:
In 2007, Latinos accounted for 40% of all sentenced federal offenders, more than triple their share (13%) of the total U.S. adult population. Between 1991 and 2007, enforcement of federal immigration laws became a growing priority in response to undocumented immigration. The total number of offenders sentenced in federal courts more than doubled from 1991 to 2007.
During this period, the number of sentenced offenders who were Hispanic nearly quadrupled and accounted for more than half (54%) of the growth in the total number of sentenced offenders. One reason all of these figures have risen so sharply is that immigration offenses, unlike most other criminal offenses, are exclusively under the jurisdiction of federal rather than state or local courts.
In 1991, three times as many Hispanics were sentenced in federal courts for drug crimes (60%) as for immigration crimes (20%). By 2007, that pattern had reversed; among Hispanic offenders sentenced in federal courts, 48% were sentenced for an immigration offense and 37% for a drug offense. The data for this report are from the United States Sentencing Commission's Monitoring of Federal Criminal Sentences data files for fiscal years 1991 through 2007.
Key findings of this report include:
Demographics of Sentenced Federal Offenders
Hispanics represented 40% of all sentenced federal offenders in 2007, the single largest racial and ethnic group among sentenced federal offenders. Whites constituted 27% of federal sentenced offenders and blacks 23%. The remainder (10%) are Asians, Native Americans and those whose race and ethnicity is indeterminate.
More than seven-in-ten (72%) of Hispanics sentenced in federal courts in 2007 did not hold U.S. citizenship. They accounted for 29% of all federal offenders in 2007.
Latino offenders who did not hold U.S. citizenship represented a greater share of all Latino offenders in 2007 than in 1991 -- 72% versus 61%. Between 1991 and 2007, the number of Hispanics sentenced in federal courts nearly quadrupled (270%), rising faster than the number of offenders sentenced in federal courts over this period and accounting for 54% of the growth in the total number of offenders.
In 2007, more than half (56%) of all Latino offenders were sentenced in just five of the nation's 94 U.S. district courts. All five are located near the U.S.-Mexico border: the Southern (17%) and Western (15%) districts of Texas, the District of Arizona (11%), the Southern District of California (6%) and the District of New Mexico (6%).
Offense Convictions in Federal Courts
Among all Hispanics sentenced in federal courts in 2007, 48% were sentenced for immigration offenses, 37% for drug offenses and 15% for other offenses.
Of Hispanic offenders with U.S. citizenship, more than half (56%) were sentenced for drug offenses, 14% for immigration offenses and 30% for all other offenses.
Of Latino offenders who did not hold U.S. citizenship, more than six-in-ten (61%) were sentenced for immigration offenses, 30% for drug offenses and 9% for all other offenses.
Much of the increase in the number of Hispanics sentenced in federal courts has come from a rise in the number of offenders sentenced for immigration offenses between 1991 and 2007.
Three-fourths of Hispanic immigration offenders were sentenced for entering the U.S. unlawfully or residing in the country without authorization. Nearly two-in-ten (19%) were sentenced for smuggling, transporting or harboring an unlawful alien.
More than eight-in-ten (81%) non-citizen Hispanic immigration offenders in 2007 were sentenced for entering the U.S. unlawfully or residing in the country without authorization. In contrast, fully 91% of Latino immigration offenders who were U.S. citizens were sentenced for smuggling, transporting or harboring an unlawful alien.
In 2007, Hispanics sentenced in federal courts were more likely than non-Hispanic offenders to receive a prison sentence -- 96% versus 82%.
Hispanics sentenced in federal courts in 2007 received shorter prison sentences on average than either blacks or whites -- 46 months versus 91 months for blacks and 62 months for whites.
Hispanics who did not hold U.S. citizenship were more likely to receive a prison sentence in 2007 than those who were citizens -- 98% versus 90%.
The average prison sentence for Hispanics fell from 58 months in 1991 to 46 months in 2007.
Non-U.S. citizen Latinos received shorter prison sentences.
Read the full report at pewhispanic.org.
1. The number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. increased from 3.9 million in 1992 (Passel, 2005) to 11.9 million in 2008 (Passel and Cohn, 2008). Published reports indicate an increasing level of immigration enforcement activity since the mid-1990s. According to the USSC, implementation of Operation Gatekeeper by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 1995 resulted in more immigration cases entering federal courts (USSC, 2004).
According to a report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University, the number of immigration prosecutions filed by federal prosecutors more than quadrupled since 2001.
And according to the Migration Policy Institute, Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Fugitive Operations Teams arrested nearly 34,000 illegal aliens in fiscal 2008 as part of its National Fugitive Operations Program. This was a nearly 17-fold increase since fiscal 2003 (Mendelson, Strom and Wishnie, 2009).
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