Re-entering felons are proseucuted
Aug. 16, 2009 at 8:15 PM

PHOENIX, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. government is beefing up efforts to prosecute violent criminals who re-enter the country from Mexico, a federal prosecutor in Phoenix said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Koehler, who supervises a unit that prosecutes cases involving illegal re-entry of felons, told The Arizona Republic there are no firm statistics on how many deported criminals return he said it happens frequently.

The number of people prosecuted in Arizona for felony re-entry jumped 300 percent from 1997 to 2007, the Justice Department has reported. Nationally, prosecutions increased 150 percent during the same period.

Arizona statistics indicate in fiscal year 2008, 16 percent of the 317,696 immigrants arrested by agents in Tucson were charged with felony counts of re-entering illegally. Some had prior felony convictions in the United States while had previously been formally deported.

For those with no felony convictions, crossing the border illegally is a misdemeanor.

Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies -- a Washington think tank that favors low immigration -- said it is difficult to determine whether prosecuting deported criminals deters them or others from illegal re-entry. She said better border security is the only answer. ... 250468135/