Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Report on Operation Streamline

Many of you are aware of, and even in the trenches of, Operation Streamline, an ostensibly* zero-tolerance policy of prosecuting every person caught entering the United States illegally in certain areas along the U.S.-Mexico border. You're probably also already aware that the effort has overwhelmed courts in the border districts in which it's been implemented, and that "due process" and "Operation Streamline" don't exactly belong in the same sentence together (unless accompanied by words like "lack of," "absence of," "violation," and such). Nevertheless, you'll probably still find interesting and illuminating "Assembly Line Justice: A Review of Operation Streamline," a report by Joanna Lydgate of the Warren Institute at UC Berkeley Law School. From the executive summary:
The current administration is committed to combating the drug and weapon trafficking and human smuggling at the root of violence along the U.S.-Mexico border. But a Bush-era immigration enforcement program called Operation Streamline threatens to undermine that effort. Operation Streamline requires the federal criminal prosecution and imprisonment of all unlawful border crossers. The program, which mainly targets migrant workers with no criminal history, has caused skyrocketing caseloads in many federal district courts along the border. This Warren Institute study demonstrates that Operation Streamline diverts crucial law enforcement resources away from fighting violent crime along the border, fails to effectively reduce undocumented immigration, and violates the U.S. Constitution.

The report is based on a number of sources, including "numerous in-person and telephone interviews with judges, U.S. attorneys, defense attorneys, Border Patrol representatives, and immigration lawyers involved in Operation Streamline’s implementation."

*I say "ostenstibly" because, as the report notes, not everyone caught crossing the border illegally is actually prosecuted:
No Operation Streamline jurisdiction actually prosecutes exactly 100% of border apprehensions. The Border Patrol, as a matter of policy, does not refer for prosecution juveniles, parents traveling with minor children, certain persons with health conditions, and others who require prompt return to their country of origin for humanitarian reasons.


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