Illegal immigrants now face a maximum of five years in prison if they return to the United States after having been deported by immigration authorities.
''People who return after having been deported from the country need to know that they are committing a federal crime and they can be arrested, detained and put in jail,'' said Nicole Navas, spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miami.
In a press statement released Tuesday, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida announced the case of two Mexican citizens in Palm Beach County who pleaded guilty to entering the country illegally after being previously deported.
Enrique Espino Hernandez, 37, was deported in May 2008 after being convicted of cocaine possession. On Friday, he pleaded guilty of reentering the United States illegally and faces up to five years in prison.
In the second case, Fausto Jaimes Santibañez, 46, pleaded guilty Friday to three offenses: possessing a firearm and having been involved in a shooting, which carries up to 10 years in prison; returning illegally to the United States (up to two years in prison); and lying to immigration authorities (up to three years). The statement didn't say when he was previously deported.
Both men have sentencing dates next January.
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