According to a report from the Associated Press Wednesday, the U.S. Western District Court in Del Rio, Texas is “America’s toughest courthouse for those who cross the border illegally” and serves a a model for President Donald Trump’s plans to reduce illegal immigration. U.S. District Judge Alia Moses, however, says this article misrepresents the process by which immigrants are tried in Del Rio.
The Del Rio District Court follows, “Streamline,” an initiative led by the Department of Homeland Security and implemented in Texas and other border states, that allows individuals who violate immigration laws to be tried in the criminal justice system. The initiative, which began in 2005, also allows violators to be tried in groups.
“The reporter writes, ‘each defendant gets about a minute in court.’ That’s not quite true,” Moses says. “While we take these cases in groups, depending on 20, 30, 40, however many come in, the court proceeding actually takes a couple of hours. “We talk to everybody, everybody has an attorney, everybody has a chance to allocute, everybody has a chance to know what the charges are, they’ve already spoken to their attorney’s prior to that time.”
She says many of the individuals crossing the border are more knowledgeable of immigration laws than the article leads readers to believe.
“If the word amnesty gets thrown about, whether it’s intended to mean we will or we won’t have amnesty, we see the shift in the pattern and the flow of immigrants immediately,” Moses says. “Right after Streamline started, people were avoiding Del Rio. People were coming through other areas. Word got out very quickly, ‘you don’t want to go through Del Rio.'”
Moses says that it is difficult to say whether or not the processes in her Del Rio court are having an effect on illegal border crossings because the number of cases heard in court has increased at a greater rate than the number of people apprehended at the border. As the Trump administration increases border patrol enforcement however, Moses says that the strain on the court system increases.
“I am the only district judge in Del Rio. There is a limit to what I am going to be able to do so the more felony cases you bring because you have more border control agents, they’re going to get bogged down before me. I will need help. I do need help as it is.” Moses says.
Written By Emma Whalen.