Ariz. border enforcement gets 21 more prosecutors
By Brady McCombs
The Arizona Daily Star (Tucson), April 25, 2008
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona will receive 21 additional prosecutors as part of the Justice Department's efforts to fight border-related crime.
A total of 64 new prosecutors and 35 support staff members will be added to the five U.S. Attorney's Offices along the Southwest border from a $7 million allotment from the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General Mark Filip said Thursday in Tucson.
The District of Arizona will receive the most, with 21 additional prosecutors and 11 support staffers. Western Texas gets 16 prosecutors and seven support staffers; Southern Texas gets 13 prosecutors and seven support staffers; and New Mexico and Southern California each get seven prosecutors and five support staff members. Arizona has 133 assistant U.S. attorneys.
The federal prosecutors will be used to handle criminal immigration offenses such as human trafficking, drug and gun smuggling, violent crimes and money laundering, Filip said.
The influx of resources also will help support the U.S. Border Patrol's zero-tolerance initiative, which prosecutes illegal immigrants under the misdemeanor of illegal entry. The program, which started in January, prosecutes as many as 60 illegal entrants a day. Officials hope to increase the daily number of prosecutions to 100 by September.
In addition to touring the Nogales Port of Entry and flying along the border, Filip met with Robert W. Gilbert, Border Patrol Tucson Sector chief, said Sandy Raynor, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona.
Despite the meeting, it was unclear if the additional prosecutors will allow the Border Patrol to expand the zero-tolerance initiative, said Jess Rodriguez, Tucson Sector spokesman. The agency will see how the U.S. Attorney's Office in Arizona allocates the prosecutors before making that determination. Other agencies are involved in the program as well.
The funds are available immediately and for the next two years. The Justice Department has requested another $100 million in its fiscal 2009 budget to help fight criminal activity along the border, Filip said.
Dozens of new federal prosecutors headed to border states
By Arthur H. Rotstein
The Associated Press, April 25, 2008