Reentry Cases Clog Penn. Courts

Reentry Cases Clog Penn. Courts

"Immigration cases were almost nonexistent in Western Pennsylvania's federal courts until 2005.  The caseload since then, Mr. Hickton said, is "largely a function of what the investigative agencies bring to us," adding that immigration prosecution is "a fluid and evolving situation" because federal policies keep changing.  ICE officers "see the same people coming in and out," said Jacqueline B. Martinez, a Downtown attorney specializing in immigration. "They're keeping better track of them," resulting in more re-entry prosecutions.  "It's a revolving door," she said.  It doesn't spin for free.  The illegal re-entry cases demand valuable prosecutor and public defender time.  Even if the offender is deported in a quick two months, the prison bill is nearly $5,000.  The U.S. Sentencing Commission has reported that in 2011, immigration cases made up 35 percent of all federal criminal sentencings -- the largest category, with drugs coming in second at 29 percent. Statistics assembled by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, which monitors the federal justice system, indicate that around four-fifths of the immigration cases filed are for illegal re-entry." - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Jan. 6, 2013.