Friday, October 26, 2007

Operation Streamline Coming to Laredo

The Houston Chronicle reports here that

The U.S. Border Patrol plans to announce today a "zero tolerance" operation to prosecute, jail and deport all illegal immigrants caught in the bustling Laredo area, marking a significant tightening of immigration enforcement along a key U.S. border corridor.

This stepped-up effort is an expansion of the Border Patrol's "Operation Streamline" project in the Del Rio and Yuma, Ariz., sectors, which sharply reduced illegal entries. That is being expanded to the sprawling Laredo sector beginning Wednesday, officials confirmed.

As you might imagine, this will put an additional burden on courts that are already among the busiest in the nation.* As the San Antonio Express-News reported last week,

While prosecutors there couldn't be reached, judiciary spokesman Dick Corelli said the federal courts in Laredo already were inundated to the point that cases weren't being prosecuted.

"The federal courts are in a reactive mode here," Corelli said. "... The reaction is, 'Well, we'll handle any cases that come to the court in the best way we can.'"

The Express-News article also contained a chart showing that drug seizures increased dramatically at the same time that illegal alien apprehensions were falling in the Del Rio sector after the implementation of Operation Streamline. This related article in the Wall Street Journal explains that, "[a]s tighter security makes crossing the border trickier and more hazardous, the traditional mom-and-pop operations in Mexico that used to ferry people across have been replaced by larger, more-professional criminal gangs, often with ties to the illegal-drug trade."

*By the way, the Summer 2007 issue of the ABA magazine Litgation has a very interesting article by Judge Robert Gettleman, of the Northern District of Illinois, describing his experience as a visiting judge in Laredo. Unfortunately, you have to be an ABA member to access the article on-line, so you'll have to track down one of your ABA buddies if you want to read it. It's titled "Order on the Border," and is co-authored by Jenna Klatell, who was one of Judge Gettleman's clerks at the time.



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