Trump says his cruel border crackdown is needed to stop drug cartels and gangs — but federal prosecutors say his approach is diverting resources they need to combat drug smuggling.
Trump's zero-tolerance approach requiring prosecution of all people caught crossing the border is forcing prosecutors to divert resources away from drug-smuggling cases to deal with a flood of minor immigration charges, according to a new report.
Internal emails obtained by USA Today show that a Justice Department supervisor in San Diego warned border authorities in May that the surge of immigration cases stemming from Trump's crackdown at the border "will occupy substantially more of our resources."
The supervisor, who runs the major crimes unit at the local U.S. Attorney's Office, said in the email that prosecutors were "diverting staff, both support and attorneys" as a result of the Trump administration's demand for all unauthorized border crossings to be criminally prosecuted.
As USA Today noted, prosecuting unauthorized border crossings is a largely symbolic gesture.
The minor charges in these cases usually result in no jail time and a $10 fee — but the Trump administration has used these cases as the legal justification for forcibly separating children from their parents.
As a result, thousands of families have been torn apart and children are being thrown in cages while their parents wait for a court date.
Thanks to the surge of immigration cases, federal prosecutors now have less time to spend working on drug-smuggling cases, the DOJ official warned. If the tight deadline can't be met, some cases will "have to be declined," he said, according to USA Today.
Since Trump's zero-tolerance approach was enacted in April, the number of drug-smuggling cases prosecuted in federal court has dropped, even as the number of cases submitted to them by border authorities has more than doubled.
Most of these cases involved more than a kilogram of drugs, USA Today reported.
In other words, instead of going after people accused of smuggling large quantities of drugs, federal prosecutors in California are too busy dealing with the surge of misdemeanor charges brought against families caught crossing the border — many of whom are seeking asylum from violent drug gangs and cartels.
This report completely undermines Trump's frequent claim that his cruel border crackdown is needed to stop crime. If he cared about public safety, he wouldn't be diverting resources away from prosecuting major crimes.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.