About the Data

Data Sources and Coverage
The information about the federal enforcement of the criminal laws by the DHS and the Justice Department on this Web site comes from many sources. This is a guide to the major agency data sources that were used. It is organized by Web site area.
  • DHS at Work
    This area draws upon a wide scope of information sources, including background information about the agency, its history and evolving responsibilities, as well as its activities. Key sources of information were Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency reports, congressional hearings, GAO reports, budget documents, federal court records, and interviews. Prior scholarly work on the agency was also examined. Specific figures reported are drawn from other areas on this site, sources for which are discussed below.

  • National Profile and Enforcement Trends Over Time
    Data on aliens deported, inadmissables, and voluntary departures under docket control came from INS internal sources. Historical staffing information about the DHS was obtained from the Office of Personnel Management. Data sources on criminal enforcement are discussed at more length below in the section on district enforcement.

  • District Enforcement Annual Layers
    The primary source for these figures is the federal prosecutor database compiled by TRAC from U.S. Justice Department case management data systems. DHS internal sources were not used. In the case of Customs, inquiries to the agency to review TRAC's findings did not meet with any response from the Customs Service.

    In the case of Immigration, available data on criminal enforcment actions are quite cursory in nature, and TRAC has uncovered major questions regarding their reliability and validity. For example, immigration figures for criminal prosecutions and convictions resulting from DHS investigations are substantially smaller than counts based upon federal prosecutor records of referrals received from the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, or court records on immigration cases.

    Coverage includes all referrals recommending criminal prosecution recorded as received by federal prosecutors where either the Immigration and Naturalization Service or U.S. Customs Service is recorded by Justice as the lead investigative agency (see Government Data Systems for DHS Lag). All criminal enforcement figures are based upon number of individuals (defendants or potential defendants) involved -- rather than number of cases. A single referral or case filed in court may involve more than one individual. Each defendant involved is separately counted in these figures.

    Population figures used in computing per capita rates and ranks are county level annual estimates from the United States Census Bureau.

    DHS staff figures are based upon the number of individuals on the payroll at the end of the fiscal year by post-of-duty and were compiled by TRAC from Office of Personnel Management sources. Unless otherwise noted, the figures include only fulltime staff in each occupational series.


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