[Guest post by DRJ]
U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks has entered an order questioning why federal prosecutors in Austin, Texas, are prosecuting immigration offenders:
“On Friday, [Judge Sam] Sparks wrote in the order that “like many of the defendants prosecuted under the (federal illegal re-entry law) in the last six months” the men “have no significant criminal history.”
Sparks wrote that it has cost more than $13,350 to jail the three men and noted that charging them criminally means additional costs and work for prosecutors, defense lawyers, court personnel and others.
“The expenses of prosecuting illegal entry and re-entry cases (rather than deportation) on aliens without any significant criminal history is simply mind-boggling,” Sparks wrote.
He said the assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted the case could not state “a reason that these three defendants were prosecuted rather than simply removing them from the United States.”
Sparks sentenced the defendants to time served and ordered them deported. The reporter was unable to determine the criminal history of two of the defendants, but a lawyer for the third maintained his client “is not a criminal:”
“A lawyer for the third, Victor Arana, said his client, Angel Hernandez-Garcia, was arrested on Halloween on a charge of driving while intoxicated.
Arana said his client, who has since pleaded guilty to the DWI charge, had been living in Austin with his wife and two children and working in construction.
His client, he said, is not a criminal.
“These are tough cases because there are families involved,” Arana said.
“The only difference is he was born on one side and we were born on the other side,” he said.”
Immigration lawyer Daniel Kowalski noted the Bush Administration had implemented Operation Streamline designed to increase prosecutions in order to deter illegal immigration. Since then, “there has been a steady flow of cases in Austin charging some immigrants who have minor or no criminal histories with illegal re-entry.”
It sounds like Judge Sparks is unhappy with spending this money … and also with his docket.