July 8, 2008
Breaking News
Officials: Entry prosecutions success in Arizona

By ARTHUR H. ROTSTEIN, The Associated Press

TUCSON - Six months after the government began prosecuting some illegal crossers caught by the U.S. Border Patrol along the Mexican border's busiest corridor, nearly all federal partners involved say the program is working surprisingly well.

The Border Patrol expected Operation Arizona Denial, aimed at deterring illegal immigrants, to go smoothly based on the success of similar zero tolerance programs elsewhere along the 2,000-mile border.

Other agencies, including the U.S. Marshal's Service and U.S. District Court administrators, were hopeful but less certain, worrying about costs and strains on resources.

Only the federal public defender's office, which from the get-go termed the program ill-advised, continues to voice significant concerns.

Those range from issues of competency and asylum to potential constitutional violations in how people are being stopped and interrogated, said Heather Williams, first assistant federal public defender in Tucson.

Amazingly, defense attorney staffing has not been an issue, Williams said. She praised the chief judge for assuring there were enough qualified private lawyers at each step to represent all defendants _ six a day per lawyer, at a congressionally approved rate of $100 an hour _ beyond the two lawyers her office provides.

But she said, â€