Posted on November 5, 2004

Feds Plan To Narrow Prosecutions For Illegal Border Crossings

North County Times (Escondido, Cal.), Nov. 4

SAN DIEGO — Federal prosecutors in San Diego plan to become more selective in prosecuting illegal aliens among the tens of thousands who make their way across the border, it was reported Thursday.

More than 100,000 people are arrested by Border Patrol agents each year, and it’s impossible to prosecute all of them, acting Chief Border Patrol Agent Paul Blocker Jr. said in remarks reported by The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Stephen Clark, first assistant U.S. attorney in San Diego, told the newspaper that everyone crossing the border illegally is committing a crime, but that the system can’t handle such a deluge. Most are sent back, as prosecutors must be selective about which cases to file, he said.

“We want to focus first on the people who are the highest risk to public safety,” Clark told the newspaper.

An Aug. 24 letter to Blocker from Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Peak described the proposed guidelines as increasing the focus on repeat criminals, those with recent convictions locally and on immigrant smugglers caught in mountains and deserts, where they place people at risk of death, the Union- Tribune reported.

The letter said government lawyers are spending too much time prosecuting immigrants with out-of-town convictions and whose last arrests were 10 or 15 years ago.

Prosecutors intend to focus on smugglers in the “most egregious” cases because they will result in the longest prison sentence, Peak wrote.