Note: Congressman Issa hosted Café San Diego on Monday.

Saturday, March 31, 2007 | The question from Billy Bob Henry was the first so I’ll respond and hope this answers concerns of others as well.

He wrote:

Let me ask you something-what do you represents a bigger threat to our country- dirty congressmen who are taking bribes, or illegal aliens sneaking/border issues (Which has been going on for decades)?

First of all, Carol Lam and the U.S. attorneys who worked under her prosecuting Duke Cunningham and others related to the bribery scandal did San Diego and the United States a great service. As someone who worked in the House of Representatives with Cunningham, I felt his betrayal on a very personal level. 

I disagree, however, with the notion that Carol Lam had an “either/or” choice between prosecuting Cunningham and those who traffic human beings across our borders.

In regard to the question about finite resources and Carol Lam not being told that she needed to improve her border crimes record, I do have some concerns. Carol Lam testified before Congress that Justice Department officials did not make clear to her that she needed to make border crimes and gun crimes more of a priority.

The Justice Department also bears much responsibility for immigration prosecution failures. It’s clear that the Department of Justice has bungled the dismissals of the eight U.S. attorneys who, I would note, served their country honorably and deserved a better thank you than they have received as the subjects of a shouting match between Congress and the administration.

I would, however, like to submit this memorandum that was sent to Carol Lam in July 2006.  The memorandum covers the five U.S. Attorneys offices on the border with Mexico (Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and two in Texas) and chronicles that the number of border case in the Southern District of California lags behind the other offices. According to the memo, Southern California even prosecuted 200 fewer immigration cases than the New Mexico office that is approximately half the size.

The question about what specific direction Carol Lam was given by her superiors is definitely one I hope to have an opportunity to ask the Justice Department about at a future hearing.

I also pursued and have had some limited success in bringing new resources to address the problem in San Diego despite the refusal by Carol Lam and the Department of Justice to acknowledge a problem and quantify what resources they needed to address it.

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