The aggressive prosecution of border-crossers is straining the courts. Will ‘zero tolerance’ make it worse?

Richmond Times-Dispatch | 5/14/2018 | Staff
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SAN DIEGO — The Mexican migrant, slouching in his baggy jail garb, was caught crossing the border and the federal judge in San Diego wanted an explanation.

“I’ll stay in Mexico and won’t come back again,” said Carlos Arizmendi-Dominguez, 34, a former dairy farmer who was trying to return to his family in Idaho. “I ask forgiveness.”

Magistrate - Judge - William - V - Gallo

“I’m not here to forgive,” Magistrate Judge William V. Gallo replied.

Across the Southwest border, the crackdown on illegal crossings announced in April 2017 by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is gaining traction, as immigration caseloads soar and overburdened judicial districts struggle to keep up. Detention space is reaching capacity, courthouses are scrambling to maintain security, and some judges say they have reached their limit.

May - Sessions - Crackdown - Crossers - Asylum

On May 7, Sessions expanded the crackdown to include more first-time crossers, asylum seekers and parents who will be separated from the children to face prosecution — a move toward “zero tolerance” that will probably further overload the system.

Nowhere are the changes more noticeable than in California. In the southern federal district in San Diego, 1,275 cases were filed in the first three months of this year. Prosecutors plan to boost criminal immigration filings to about 1,000 per month, according to district data and attorneys at the Federal Defenders of San Diego, who have been notified of increasing prosecution levels by the U.S. attorney’s office.

Pace - Prosecutions - Year - Triple - Year

At that pace, prosecutions could top 9,000 for the year, triple last year’s total and the most since at least since 2000, according to district data.

Prosecutions have gone up about 70 percent this fiscal year in Arizona, where the chief U.S. District Court judge said last week that the courts can’t take more cases without additional judges, attorneys, interpreters, deputy marshals and courtroom space.

Prosecutions - Level - Day

“If they want to increase prosecutions to a level more than (the) 75 per day...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Richmond Times-Dispatch
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