Second in NPR series rebuts DHS justifications for Operation Streamline

On Monday afternoon, Ted Robbins followed up on his much-needed review of due process concerns in the criminal justice system with an impressive critique of the three justifications Border Patrol continually uses to defend Operation Streamline (“Claims of Border Patrol Success are Unproven” September 13).

While the piece is thorough, what jumped out to me was how little information was needed to see that not a single justification for Operation Streamline has much basis in actual data.

This fact was almost comically clear when Department of Homeland Security’s Matt Chandler made a data-bereft, vague statement about Operation Streamline being a “valuable tool” in decreasing the number of border-crossers. Follow this with the commonsense reasoning of University of Arizona law professor Mark Miller:

“If dying in the desert is not a deterrent, it’s hard to imagine why spending no or little time in federal prison and being returned to your home country is a deterrent.”

Not allowed access to Operation Streamline detainees in the states, Robbins visited a food center for deported immigrants in Sonora. While the 30 with OS convictions who revealed they will try to re-enter despite the risk of further imprisonment is by no means a statistically representative sample, that’s 85% of OS deportees in one site saying the program does not deter them. It makes the government’s assertion that only 20% attempt re-entry seem more-than-dubious, if it didn’t already.

Robbins investigates two more justifications, dealing with each each quickly. Border Patrol’s assertion that apprehensions are already down because of the program? During the same time period that Operation Streamline has been growing, Border Patrol has beefed up security through staff, technology, infrastructure, and physical barriers. Not to mention the United States has been in an economic recession, a situation which always brings with it decreased immigration numbers.

How about the claim that convicting non-violent border crossers frees resources for pursuing drug offenses, violent crime, and white collar crime? Turns out, the only border district that appears to support that claim . . . isn’t participating in the Operation Streamline Program. When data from OS districts is analyzed, prosecutions of “serious crimes” (non-immigration) are actually down 10% when one looks at each OS district from when the policy was enacted to the end of 2009.

The story is a quick listen. Turns out it’s not that hard to see how empty the reasons are for continuing Operation Streamline. Find it here: Claims of Border Patrol Success are Unproven