Harsh Immigration Policies Push Latino Majority Into Federal Prisons

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Deportation is clearly not punishment enough for the Obama administration. Not only has President Obama deported more people in his tenure than in any of his predecessors, his administration is responsible for the most aggressive spike in federal prosecutions of immigration offenses. Now, Latinos are the majority of those who are sent to federal prison for felonies, according to a new report (pdf) from the U.S. Sentencing Commission.

The spike, other numbers show, has been driven in large part by the federal government’s aggressive prosecution of immigration offenses.

Where once people who were caught trying to enter the country without papers were allowed to opt for voluntary removal and kicked back across the border, today the federal government is choosing to file charges against people and incarcerate people before deporting them. It’s a profound enough change in policy that it’s changing the demographics of incarceration rates.

In the first nine months of the year Latinos were 50.3 percent of all those who were sentenced to federal prison for felony convictions. Blacks made up 19.7 percent and whites 26.4 percent. Latinos are just 16 percent of the general population though, according to the Census. This is the first year that Latinos have become the majority of those sent to prison for federal felonies.

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