Illegal Immigrant Cases Hog Justice's Resources

Once-federal cases get bounced to state, local officials
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2009 11:35 AM CST
Illegal Immigrant Cases Hog Justice's Resources
A US Border Patrol vehicle speeds along the border fence at sunset Monday, Nov. 17, 2008 in San Diego.    (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

A federal focus on prosecuting immigration crimes is killing resources to deal with a wide variety of other cases—meaning those cases go to state and local authorities, often overwhelming them, the New York Times reports. Immigration cases have soared in the past 5 years, while federal prosecution of drugs and weapons cases, organized and white-collar crime, and public corruption have dropped significantly.

The Justice Department often takes an “industrial” approach to immigration cases, with single courtrooms sometimes handling 200 in one day. And “every time the government puts a lot of resources on one thing, they’re going to take away from another,” one federal judge said. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors who used to handle “the most complex” cases are dealing with simple immigration matters, a prosecutor said. “It’s demoralizing.”

(Read more Justice Department stories.)

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