Federal judge Sam Sparks in Austin says that some criminal cases against illegal immigrants present “a cost to the American taxpayer  that is neither meritorious nor reasonable,” reports the Austin American-Statesman. Most of those prosecuted in Austin have been identified by immigration officers at the jail and charged with illegal entry after deportation. Many defendants have no significant criminal history and until a change in enforcement strategy about two years ago would have been deported and not prosecuted.
Sparks ruled in cases against three Mexican citizens who had been deported and who returned to the U.S. without permission. They pleaded guilty and were sentenced by Sparks to the time they had already served and are being deported. 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 prosecutor could not state “a reason that these three defendants were prosecuted rather than simply removing them from the United States.”