- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Guidelines issued by U.S. attorneys in Texas showed that most illegal aliens crossing into the state had to be arrested at least six times before federal authorities would prosecute them, according to an internal Justice Department memo.

It is not clear when the memo was written, but the Justice Department reviewed the guidelines sometime after a February 2005 performance review of Carol Lam, the top federal prosecutor in San Diego from 2002 until she was fired last month. Some Republican lawmakers had complained that Mrs. Lam failed to prosecute immigration violations aggressively. The memo was released this week in response to a congressional investigation of the dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys.

“There isn’t enough jail space to incarcerate everyone who crosses that border,” said T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council. “If everyone demanded hearing in front of an immigration judge, it would bring our system to a grinding halt in a matter of days.”

Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said yesterday that U.S. attorneys set guidelines that, in part, reflect local crime issues and staffing.

“For law-enforcement reasons, the department cannot discuss what the present prosecutorial guidelines are concerning the border,” he said.

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