Hopefully, all of us here can agree that the United State’s current policies surrounding prosecuting undocumented immigrants for entering the country, and the ways that those immigrants are treated while in custody, are cruel, inhumane and blatantly racist. But this NY Times article also takes the time to highlight how these prosecutions inevitably take resources away from prosecuting, you know, real crime:
Federal prosecutions of immigration crimes nearly doubled in the last fiscal year, reaching more than 70,000 immigration cases in the 2008 fiscal year, according to federal data compiled by a Syracuse University research group. The emphasis, many federal judges and prosecutors say, has siphoned resources from other crimes, eroded morale among federal lawyers and overloaded the federal court system. Many of those other crimes, including gun trafficking, organized crime and the increasingly violent drug trade, are now routinely referred to state and county officials, who say they often lack the finances or authority to prosecute them effectively.
Bush administration officials say the government’s focus on immigration crimes is an outgrowth of its counterterrorism strategy and vigorous pursuit of immigrants with criminal records.
Immigration prosecutions have steeply risen over the last five years, while white-collar prosecutions have fallen by 18 percent, weapons prosecutions have dropped by 19 percent, organized crime prosecutions are down by 20 percent and public corruption prosecutions have dropped by 14 percent, according to the Syracuse group’s statistics. Drug prosecutions — the enforcement priority of the Reagan, first Bush and Clinton administrations — have declined by 20 percent since 2003.
Well, I guess that at least the drop in drug prosecutions — which frankly, I’m surprised to hear about — is good news. But the drop in prosecutions for white-collar crimes, weapons crimes, organized crime and public corruption? Um, not so good.
There’s lots more interesting stuff in the full article, so I recommend checking it out. But the gist is this: we’re not only propping up racist policy with the lie that prosecuting men and women (and locking up their children in the process) who were just looking for a way to feed their families is for the safety of the American people. Us Good, Worthy American Folk who are supposedly being protected? We’re actually being made less safe as a result.
Good work there, Bush administration. Good work.
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