Crackdown fuels rise in Hispanic defendants
WASHINGTON - Hispanics outnumber other groups among criminal offenders in the federal courts due in part to the crackdown on illegal immigration, according to a study released yesterday.
The Pew Hispanic Center, which analyzed federal sentencing data, found that in 2007, 40 percent of the offenders were Hispanic, compared with 27 percent white, 23 percent black, and 10 percent from other groups. In 1991, whites made up 43 percent of those sentenced in federal courts and 24 percent were Hispanic.
The Hispanic offenders were more likely to be noncitizens and nearly half of the crimes were immigration-related. Three-quarters of the crimes were for reentering or remaining in the country illegally, while about a fifth were for smuggling, transporting, or harboring an illegal immigrant.
Black and white criminal offenders were sentenced most often for drug-related crimes.
"There's been a general increase in the population of undocumented immigrants in the United States. . . . Second, there has been a change to policy with regards to immigration," said Mark Hugo Lopez, the center's associate director.
There are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the country, up from about 4 million in 1992. Many of them have come from Mexico and Latin America.