Criminal prosecution of immigration offenses over the past five years is down 36 percent, and the once-successful program of detaining illegal immigrants in state and local jails is in free fall, down by two-thirds, according reports from two federal agencies.

Justice Department statistics show that criminal prosecutions for crimes such as unlawful re-entry by an illegal in November totalled 4,861, down 13.2 percent over the previous month. Over the past year, that number is down 22.3 percent.

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, which analyzed the data, that is a five year decline of criminal prosecutions of 36 percent.

CIS analyzed data produced by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which publishes Justice and Homeland Security Department data on immigration. TRAC said that the top criminal prosecution charge was "reentry by a deported alien."

TRAC also produced the "detainer" report based on Homeland Security data that showed a huge drop in the administration's effort to grab illegals in jail. It said that there were over 25,000 detainers issued in October 2010. That dropped to 7,117 in October 2015.

The graphic provided in the TRAC report showed that the numbers have stabilized in recent months, but CIS blogger Dan Cadman, a former immigration official, noted the huge decline over five years.

He wrote: "I have no idea what TRAC means by 'stabilizes.' A quick look at Figure 1a of their report shows a more accurate state of affairs, if one considers the number of detainers being filed over the course of five years, from a high in April 2011, when Secure Communities became fully effective nationwide and kicked into high gear, versus October 2015. I would use other phrases: 'plummeted or 'dropped like a stone.' Or, as my colleague Jessica Vaughan has noted, particularly in relation to detainers filed at county jails, where the lion's share of criminals of any stripes are held after being booked for offenses small and large: 'a stunning free fall.'"

The detainer program has been controversial, with many cities responding by protecting illegals and calling their towns "sanctuary cities." Homeland changed the name and tone of the program, but it has still been rebuffed by cities.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.