A “Law and Order” Administration?

May 21, 2008

Does the Bush presidency deserve to be called a “law and order” administration? A look at Justice Department statistics for a ten year period tells a different tale.

Illegal immigration has suddenly become a huge threat to our well-being. In 1994, according to U.S. Department of Justice statistics, 5.5% of all federal prosecutions were for immigration offenses. In 2004, however, an almost fourfold increase in federal enforcement of immigration laws upped that percentage to 19.1% of all prosecutions. It’s pretty easy to “get your enforcement numbers up” when you focus on illegal immigration. You can bag 300 violators in one fell swoop.

Such a dramatic increase must be at the expense of other types of prosecutions. Where were the hits taken? Let’s take a look.

Drug offense prosecutions dropped in overall percentages from 38.2% in 1994 to 32.9% in 2004. How did consumer protection fare? You guessed it. Fraud prosecutions dropped from 16.5% in 1994 to just 13.1% in 2004. Regulatory prosecutions were halved during that decade, from 2% to 1%.

Did fraud and violation of consumer rights become less of a problem during that decade? Did big corporations become less of a threat than Mexicans crossing the border for low wage jobs? Leads one to believe that immigration has become a bigger problem than corporate greed, the meltdown of the mortgage industry, and business scams. This administration believes that our law enforcement efforts should concentrate on the Guatemalan maids cleaning the board rooms of large corporations, rather than the high priced executives employing them and taking home huge profits. Who is federal law enforcement looking out for? You or corporate friends? Law and order indeed.