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US prosecutions of illegal immigrants at record high: report

[JURIST] US federal authorities are prosecuting significantly more illegal immigrants than in past years, at least partly because of a 2005 zero-tolerance initiative allowing agents to charge almost all illegal immigrants with minor crimes, according to a report [text; press release] released May 22 by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse [official website]. Monthly immigration prosecutions based on February 2008 data have risen to more than 166 percent of what they were in 2003, as prosecutors levy minor charges against illegal immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border in parts of Texas and Arizona where Operation Streamline [CBP press release; Washington Post backgrounder] is in full effect. "Reentry of a deported alien" is the most common charge, topping the February general prosecutions list [report text]. The Washington Post has more.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website], one of the agencies involved in Operation Streamline, maintains a number of additional initiatives [fact sheet] to combat illegal immigration. Late last month, 270 illegal immigrants arrested during an ICE-led raid at an Agriprocessors Inc. [corporate website] meatpacking plant in Iowa were each sentenced to five months in prison [JURIST report] and 27 more received probation after pleading guilty to the use of false immigration documents. ICE also carried out a raid in California last month targeting 495 people who had ignored deportation orders, during which several hundred other illegal immigrants were also found; the raid resulted in the arrest of more than 900 illegal immigrants [ICE press release].

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