Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales has urged Congress to speed the process for deporting illegal immigrants, end the impasse over judicial nominees, and extend federal antiterrorism powers under the USA Patriot Act, the New York Times reports. Gonzales said he expected the Justice Department to look for more aggressive ways to prosecute obscenity crimes, and he announced the creation of five federal-local task forces nationwide in an effort to curtail violent crime. The Associated Press identified the five locations as Camden, N.J.; Fresno, Ca.; Hartford,
Ct..; Houston, and New Orleans.
The priorities spelled out by Gonzales in a speech before the Hoover Institution in Washington, D.C., were largely a continuation of the policies of his predecessor, John Ashcroft, particularly in the emphasis on aggressive counterterrorism measures. Gonzales said his department and the federal courts were “straining under the weight of an immigration litigation system that is broken” and that illegal immigrants facing criminal charges were receiving too many chances to appeal their fates. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, suggested that Gonzales was misdirecting blame for the backlog. “If the attorney general wants to reduce the immigration workload of our federal courts,” Leahy said, “he should restore the fair appeals process within the Justice Department that his predecessor diminished through his misguided restructuring of the Board of Immigration Appeals.”