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September 2006

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.

 

Bill Would Add Judgeships, Ultimately Aid Border Courts


Senator Peter Domenici (R-NM), with co-sponsors Senators Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and John Cornyn (R-TX), last month introduced S. 3773, a bill that would increase the number of federal judgeships in districts that have "an extraordinarily high immigration caseload." The bill defines high immigration caseload as a district court in which the criminal immigration filings totaled more than 50 percent of all criminal filings for the 12-month period ending September 30, 2004.

"I believe it is imperative to equip all of our federal agencies with the assets they need to secure our borders and enforce our immigration laws," Domenici said. "That includes equipping our U.S. district courts with enough judges to handle the criminal immigration cases that appear on their dockets."

He warned that the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate in May fails to recognize that repeat immigration law violators can be charged with a felony and tried in U.S. courts. "We need to increase the number of judges in our district courts that handle such cases, particularly in those districts that are already overwhelmed with immigration cases," he said.

Four Southwest border districts meet S. 3773's fiscal year 2004 caseload criteria: the District of Arizona, the Southern District of California, the District of New Mexico, and the Southern District of Texas. The Judicial Conference has recommended creating 11 new district judgeships, nine permanent and two temporary, in these districts.

"Based on these caseloads," Domenici said, "I think we should already be giving these districts new judgeships. But to increase our border security and immigration enforcement efforts without equipping these courts to handle the even larger immigration caseloads that they are expected to face would be tantamount to willful negligence."