The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) reports that federal immigration prosecutions rose to record levels during fiscal year (FY) 2009. In the past, federal court resources were appropriately allocated to pursue immigration-related prosecutions against individuals with criminal backgrounds. Recently, however, priorities have shifted, and large numbers of federal immigration prosecutions have focused on non-violent border crossers, creating the appearance that immigrants are committing more crimes. However, the fact is -- the federal government’s shift in resources has meant spending billions of dollars prosecuting non-violent immigration violators while more serious criminals involved in drugs, weapons, and organized crime face a lower probability of prosecution.
Following the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti on January 12, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on January 15 announced “the designation of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian nationals who were in the United States as of January 12, 2010.” The “designation will allow eligible Haitian nationals in the United States to continue living and working in our country for the next 18 months.” This means that the 100,000-200,000 Haitian immigrants whom the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) estimates are now in the United States on a temporary basis or without authorization will not be subject to removal as long as there is no functioning country to which they can return, and provided that they do not have criminal records. However, Haitian nationals who qualify for TPS are not receiving permanent residence in the United States or an “amnesty” if they were unauthorized. There are currently 535,000 Haitian immigrants in the United States, with most living in Miami and New York, as well as Boston, Orlando, and Atlanta.