Limited resources in Arizona’s federal-court system are blocking the goal of prosecuting everyone who enters the country illegally, reports the Arizona Republic. The Border Patrol has referred 757 cases to authorities since the government began prosecuting illegal crossers in the Tucson area Jan. 14. Up to 42 are prosecuted daily, and there are plans to prosecute up to 100 cases a day. Federal courts in Tucson can hold only 60 immigration defendants a day. Even if they could handle the 100-a-day workload, that amounts to prosecuting only 10 percent of those arrested.
Still, officials expect the threat of prosecution and prison time to deter illegal crossers. The Operation Streamline policy involves filing charges against nearly everyone caught crossing the border illegally. Mexican authorities confirm that illegal immigrants have been deterred from crossing into the Yuma sector by the prospect of spending two weeks to six months in prison for the misdemeanor crime. The Arizona federal court is the nation’s busiest, Chief Judge John Roll said. Its judges sentence 500 felons a year, compared with a national average of 90. In Tucson, the Border Patrol has no immediate plans to phase in more than 100 prosecutions daily. That means at its peak, only one in 10 of those arrested can be prosecuted.