Gage Skidmore / Flickr Jeff Sessions...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The Trump administration order requiring immigration officials to pursue a “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting refugees and asylum-seekers is not just separating families and creating chaos: USA TODAY reports that it is resulting in staff and resources being diverted from drug-smuggling cases.

That’s right: The Trump administration is pursuing a policy that helps drug smugglers.

The email, sent by the lawyer who runs the office’s major crimes unit, said prosecutors needed to streamline their work on smuggling cases. He said that would mean tight deadlines – sometimes just a few hours to produce reports and recordings – for those that would land in federal court. Going forward, the lawyer, Fred Sheppard, warned, if agents can’t meet that high bar, “the case will be declined.”

USA TODAY reports that are also “signs” prosecutors are shifting cases from federal to state courts in an effort to reduce that workload, a move that will likely result in weaker sentences for those smugglers that are convicted.

It isn’t just federal prosecutions of smugglers that’s being “streamlined” in order to divert resources to refugee arrests. The U.S. military is diverting resources to construct camps on military land capable of housing nearly 150,000 interned migrants on four bases alone, and the new administration budget strips $77 million from the United States Coast Guard, one of the key interdictors of drug smuggling efforts, to help fund the “zero tolerance” effort.

The administration is devoting a great deal of national resources towards prosecuting these families. Drug interdiction is just one of the national priorities that is being carved up in order to support their new efforts.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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