‘Zero-tolerance’ immigration policy hits snag in California

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Federal judges in California have challenged more of the Trump administration’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy on illegal immigration.

Their decision in September to no longer accept pleas at initial appearances led to the dismissal of many cases. That’s because the government deported defendants before they could return to court.

The administration countered by saying it wouldn’t deport people until criminal cases were completed. That stopped cases from being dismissed but introduced new problems: Keeping people in custody for longer periods strained detention space and imposed higher costs.

Federal prosecutors introduced the mass hearings on immigration charges in July in California. The same model was in place for years elsewhere on the U.S.-Mexico border.