"I sentence a kid matching that profile five times a week. Those cases hurt, they break your heart."
Illegal immigrants attempt to cross the border multiple times because they cannot afford not to, Brack he said. Poor migrants "come here for the same reason people have come to America for 100 years."
"There is talk of a mandatory minimum sentence of five years for first-time offenders. If that happens, we better start building more jails. If word got out maybe it would staunch the flow. But people are going to continue to try to come here because it is sometimes their only option to feed their families and support their communities. For generations we've let them come, we courted them with the bracero program and when we've had to, we returned them. Now we're pulling the rug out and changing the rules overnight," he said.
The solution to curbing illegal immigration, said Brack, is cracking down on employers.
"My theory is if there weren't jobs, they wouldn't come. In 5,000 cases, I have never once sentenced an employer in the U.S. for hiring an illegal. We have an insatiable demand for cheap labor."
Brack says that despite the caseload, lawyers in his district are working hard to ensure immigrants get a fair day in court.
"We deal with big numbers out of necessity. The prosecutors here should be credited for their humanity and graciousness. None of the defenders allow this to be an assembly line. None of us let these thousands of trials to just be another case."