San Diego

32 Illegal Border Crossing Cases Dismissed in Federal Court

Thirty-two misdemeanor illegal border crossing cases were dismissed because there was a delay in seeing a judge.

Kelly Thornton, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego, said the Bureau of Prisons experienced a nationwide computer shutdown which began Tuesday morning and continued to Thursday.

“This has affected the Metropolitan Correctional Center’s ability to process new inmates. As a result, the United States filed motions to dismiss a number of cases against defendants who were not brought to court in a timely manner. The MCC’s computer system is improving and we expect this issue to be resolved in the near future,” Thornton said.

Reuben Cahn, Executive director of Federal Defenders in San Diego, said the defendants in those dismissed cases will return to their home country.

In other cases, defendants will continue the process of seeking asylum if that applies.

Cahn told NBC 7 he doesn't believe the delay happened because of a computer problem.

He said the system simply can't handle this many defendants.

Cahn and other Defense lawyers say the backlog is caused by a new policy under US Attorney General Jeff Sessions which mandates that everyone that crosses under the border illegally be criminally prosecuted.

"To see 30 plus cases dismissed in one day, in one court appearance, is extraordinary and I imagine this is not going to be the first time that we see this because the system is just beginning to buckle right now.” San Diego immigration attorney Andrew Nietor said. “They are not left with any choice when defendants cannot be brought to court in time. When they are left languishing in remote detention facilities those cases are going to get dismissed.”

Devin M. O’Malley with the Department of Justice sent NBC 7 the following statement:

“We must promote and enforce the rule of law in order to protect our nation and its citizens. The Department of Justice, through multiple avenues, has been in touch with administrators of the federal judiciary in order to find practical solutions to an expected increase in prosecutions along the Southwest border. We look forward to continued coordination with the courts and their Chief Judges in order to properly adjudicate cases and respect due process rights.”

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