Published February 20, 2008
Federal courts in the busiest sector for illegal immigration are overwhelmed, only able to handle a fraction of the immigration cases sent their way.
The Arizona Republic reports that while federal prosecutors in the Tucson sector want to dispose of 100 illegal immigration cases a day, they're only taking care of 42 cases per day right now. And the courts can only process 60 defendants a day.
To get to a 100-defendant-per-day load, the Tucson-based courts would need more lawyers and more judges, and maybe more prison space, the paper reports. And even then, only one in 10 of those arrested would be prosecuted.
There's no sign of the caseload lightening up any time soon, either.
Since Jan. 14, the U.S. Border Patrol has handed 757 cases over to federal authorities just in the Tucson sector, the paper reports.
The courts are seeing a hike in federal immigration cases due to the federal Operation Streamline policy that amounts to nearly anyone caught crossing illegally getting brought into the court system.
Despite the troubles in handling all the cases sent their way, officials said they believe Operation Streamline might be having a positive impact as they point to fewer arrests of immigrants, an indicator that fewer might be trying to cross over illegally.