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Immigration, Citizenship, and the Federal Justice System, 1998-2018

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2019

This is the first BJS report that comprehensively describes the citizenship of suspects arrested and prosecuted for federal offenses. The report highlights trends from 1998 through 2018, providing statistics on immigration and non-immigration offenses, U.S.-Mexico border and non-U.S.-Mexico-border districts, and country of citizenship. The findings are based on data collected by BJS's Federal Justice Statistics Program (FJSP), which receives administrative data from six federal justice agencies: the U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, U.S. Sentencing Commission, and Federal Bureau of Prisons. The FJSP links and standardizes this information, enabling the production of statistics not available elsewhere.

Updated tables to this publication are now available in the report, Immigration, Citizenship, and the Federal Justice System, 2000-2020 – Supplemental Tables.


  • Based on fiscal years—
  • In 1998, 63% of all federal arrests were of U.S. citizens; in 2018, 64% of all federal arrests were of non-U.S. citizens.
  • Non-U.S. citizens, who make up 7% of the U.S. population (per the U.S. Census Bureau for 2017), accounted for 15% of all federal arrests and 15% of prosecutions in U.S. district court for non-immigration crimes in 2018.
  • The portion of total federal arrests that took place in the five judicial districts along the U.S.-Mexico border almost doubled from 1998 (33%) to 2018 (65%).
  • Ninety-five percent of the increase in federal arrests across 20 years was due to immigration offenses.
  • In 2018, 90% of suspects arrested for federal immigration crimes were male; 10% were female.

Date Modified: January 27, 2021

Updated data resulting from late postings on suspects in matters concluded during fiscal year 2018 were made available after this report had been published. This affected tables 12, 15, 16, 17, and 18. An associated bullet on page 2 was revised as well.

Date Published: August 22, 2019