No federal district judge has sent more people to prison than Robert C. Brack, who presides over the US courthouse in the border town of Las Cruces, N.M. Between 2006 and 2012, Judge Brack locked up more than 7,000 defendants — an average of 100 a month. It’s a distinction he would just as soon forgo.
The overwhelming majority of defendants sentenced by Brack are illegal immigrants, prosecuted because they tried to cross the border after having previously been deported. Though many Americans don’t realize it, immigration-related cases now account for nearly 50 percent of all federal prosecutions, reflecting a change in federal priorities that has clogged courtrooms along the US-Mexico border, and filled cells with convicts who pose no danger to the public.