Illegal aliens deported from the U.S., many with prior felony convictions, kept federal prosecutors busy in the Middle District of Florida in 2013. Between January 1 and mid-December of 2013, federal authorities’ criminally prosecuted 196 illegal aliens for the crime of Reentry after Deportation, a violation of Title 8 of the U.S. Code, Section 1326. Most were citizens of Mexico or countries in Central America. Though warned they would face federal felony charges if they returned illegally, they ignored that warning.
The Middle District of Florida covers a vast area in state, and includes the cities of Jacksonville, Orlando, Ocala, Fort Myers, and Tampa.
Many reasons account for the increase in criminal prosecutions.
First, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security dramatically increased the number of federal agents authorized to enforce U.S. immigration laws in America’s interior.
Second, in 1996 President Clinton signed into law the Immigrant Immigration Reform and Responsibility Act that contained a provision, Section 287g, which allowed state officials to enforce U.S. immigration laws.
Third, Congress mandated that the FBI fingerprint database, known as the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS), interface with immigration computers. Consequently, fingerprints of the any deported alien booked into a U.S. jail that uses the IAFIS will alert federal agents to the alien’s location, facilitating the placement of an immigration detainer before the person can bond out of jail.
Not all of those amenable to criminal charges are prosecuted. Federal prosecutors possess the discretion to decide whether or not to accept a case presented to that office for criminal prosecution. In the Middle District of Florida, court records indicated that the guiding principle appears to regard the criminal history of the deported alien. For example, U.S. officials deport Carlos Caicedo-Rivas, aka Carlos Ramirez, to Colombia after he served a 12-year sentence in Florida for several violent felonies. Walter Berrios was deported to El Salvador after he served the majority of a 10-year sentence in federal prison for trafficking in illegal narcotics. While not all of those prosecuted have criminal histories as serious, a sampling the 196 cases revealed at least one prior encounter with a U.S. law enforcement agency.