According to a new report by the Transactional Records Access Clearninghouse (TRAC), recommendations by the U.S. Attorney for prosecution of small-time immigration cases in Texas' Southern District (Houston) "jumped by a startling 345%, increasing from 4,062 to 18,092 in just one year. While Texas South is one of the five federal judicial districts along the Mexican border, the extraordinary increase in criminal immigration cases there was far steeper than that documented for any of the other border districts or for the nation as a whole." Nationally, one in three federal convictions relate to immigration violations.
TRAC's data implies that immigration cases have essentially swamped Texas' Southern District:
Texas South, originally established in 1902, currently is the seventh largest [federal court district] in the nation with over 7 million residents, 43 counties and more than 150 assistant U.S. Attorneys.They could triple that number of prosecutions and not make a dent in illegal immigration into Texas. Those are your federal tax dollars at work, folks. I don't know a thing about immigration law, but as a practical matter, obviously current practices are overwhelming Texas' federal courts. See the rest of the excellent report from TRAC. Via CrimProf blog.
From December 2001 until June of 2005 the U.S. Attorney in Texas South was Michael T. Shelby. He is now an attorney with Fulbright and Jaworski, a major national law firm based in Houston. In his May 13 resignation statement, Mr. Shelby praised the work of his office in handling cases involving international terrorism, corporate fraud and public corruption, but did not mention criminal cases involving immigration violations.
Given the circumstances, this seems a curious lapse. According to the case- by-case information provided the Executive Office for United States Attorneys by the district he until recently headed, the office in FY 2004 prosecuted a total of slightly more than 21,000 individuals, 18,340 of whom it said were charged with immigration violations. By comparison, his office said, it only prosecuted 90 white collar crime matters, 35 internal security and terrorism matters and 15 official corruption matters.
UPDATE: Doc Berman has a related item.