Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” Border Policy Lets Serious Criminals Off The Hook

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

USA Today reports that federal prosecutors in Southern California warned the Justice Department and Attorney General Jeff Sessions that his "zero tolerance" border prosecution policy would undermine efforts to prosecute serious crimes by diverting their resources.

That feels predictable, but there's something else buried near the bottom of this report that I want to highlight.

To make up the difference, serious crimes are apparently being adjudicated in state courts where defendants could face more lenient sentences.

[There] are signs that border authorities are seeking to prosecute drug smugglers in state courts instead, even though the possible sentences typically are harsher in the federal system.

The District Attorney’s office in San Diego said Friday that the number of cases submitted to them by border authorities had more than doubled since the administration started its border crackdown. Spokeswoman Tanya Sierra said Homeland Security agents referred 96 drug cases to the office between May 21 and June 21, compared to 47 over the same period last year. [...]

Meanwhile, the number of people charged in federal court has dropped since the start of the administration’s zero-tolerance push, said Reuben Cahn, the chief federal public defender in San Diego.

So, in addition to diverting resources to charge people for petty misdemeanors that result in no additional jail time and the same deportation process they would have faced in any case, the Trump regime is also letting serious criminals off the hook.

For all the legal and rhetorical complaints the right wing made against President Obama's immigration policy, you can't say he left serious criminals off the hook. In fact, the Obama administration fought, and lost, a Supreme Court battle to place even more emphasis on serious criminals by allowing the families of DACA recipients to remain in the country. Republican state attorneys general fought that policy and won.

Now what do we have? A big, stupid, expensive and racist waste of time, resources, and moral capital.

  • gescove

    “Now what do we have? A big, stupid, expensive and racist waste of time, resources, and moral capital.” An apt description not only of the zero tolerance policy but this entire god-forsaken administration.

  • muselet

    So, not only is the Trump administration’s border policy ugly, racist, contrary to international and US law, counterproductive and pointless, it burdens border states’ courts and taxpayers.

    Yeah, sounds like the sort of policy Donald Trump would concoct.