Operation Streamline

Crossing the border was once a matter for civil immigration courts. Now, every day in federal criminal courts along the Southwest border, hundreds of mostly destitute Latino and indigenous Latin American migrants are shackled, charged, convicted and sentenced en masse under the policy called “Operation Streamline.” The program has proven to be a boon for private prisons by funneling tens of thousands of immigrants into federal prisons every year. Through research and advocacy, Grassroots Leadership is fighting for and end to this program.

Sign the petition to end Operation Streamline and the prosecution of migrants!

 

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Once again, immigrants protest inhumane treatment in federal for-profit Texas prison, as feds move to shutter similar private prison in New Mexico

(AUSTIN, Texas) — Last Friday night a group of immigrants incarcerated at the Eden Detention Center in Concho County, Texas refused to leave the recreation yard and return to their housing units, reportedly in protest of inhumane treatment at the facility. A CCA spokesperson confirmed the peaceful demonstration just after midnight. “A group of inmates at the Eden Detention Center is refusing to leave the recreation yard and return to their housing units. Throughout this incident, they have been passive. Read more about Once again, immigrants protest inhumane treatment in federal for-profit Texas prison, as feds move to shutter similar private prison in New Mexico

Jul 22, 2016
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The San Antonio Express News

Operation Misery a better name?

People who enter or re-enter U.S. borders without legal authorization do so mostly to better their families’ economic circumstances. Escaping misery should not be a crime.

But under a program launched 10 years ago, it has been effectively criminalized. The entirely predictable result has been a clogging of courts, an overpacking of federal jails, a wasteful expense estimated at $7 billion since 2005 and an unjust severing of families that imposes even more misery as breadwinners are imprisoned — for wanting to earn their bread.

This is laid out in a report by Grassroots Leadership and Justice Strategies. A recent Express-News article by Aaron Nelsen explained its findings. Nearly three-quarters of a million people have been prosecuted since 2005 in federal courts, 412,240 for improper entry (a misdemeanor) and 317,916 for re-entry (a felony). Read more about Operation Misery a better name?

Jul 15, 2016
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San Antonio Current

The Feds Have Spent Billions Jailing People for Illegal Immigration

Eleven years ago, people caught entering the country illegally wouldn't even be criminally prosecuted. Instead, their cases went through a civil removal process. However, in 2005, the Department of Homeland Security instituted Operation Streamline, which moved immigration into the federal criminal courts.

The result? A dumbfounding amount of taxpayer dollars have been spent prosecuting what used to be civil cases, has clogged federal court systems along the border and has not stopped people from trying to cross the border illegally into the United States, according to research published by the Grassroots Leadership and Justice Strategies in a new book called Indefensible found.

"Operation Streamline is known for the disturbing spectacle of mass courtroom proceedings in which up to 80 shackled migrants are arraigned, convicted and sentenced for misdemeanor improper entry charges," study author Bethany N. Carson writes. 

In 2015, nearly half of all federal prosecutions were of people accused of improper entry or re-entry. Read more about The Feds Have Spent Billions Jailing People for Illegal Immigration

Jul 15, 2016
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Texas Public Radio

Texas Matters: Operation Streamline And Problems With The U.S. Immigration System

It was just over ten years ago that Operation Streamline debuted in the U.S. Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector – it’s since been expanded to all federal district courts along the border except for the southern border of California.

Operation Streamline is a controversial approach to dealing with unauthorized immigrants that channels the apprehended into a criminal court system that has been called an assembly line and a kangaroo court. Read more about Texas Matters: Operation Streamline And Problems With The U.S. Immigration System

Jul 14, 2016
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The San Antonio Express News

Operation Streamline crackdown on illegal immigration costly and ineffective, new report claims

McALLEN — A controversial program that targets unauthorized immigrants for criminal prosecution has clogged border courts, cost billions to imprison them, and torn apart tens of thousands of families while doing little to deter illegal immigration, according to a new report published Wednesday by Grassroots Leadership and Justice Strategies.

The report, “Indefensible: A Decade of Mass Incarceration of Migrants Prosecuted for Crossing the Border,” highlights what it says are the failures of Operation Streamline, a decade-old initiative of the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice that handles illegal border crossing as a federal crime and treats unauthorized immigrants as criminals.

“This policy has resulted in a human rights disaster,” said the report’s co-author Judith A. Greene, director of Justice Strategies, an organization that supports criminal justice reform. “It’s ineffective, it’s wasteful and it’s failed by every measure.” Read more about Operation Streamline crackdown on illegal immigration costly and ineffective, new report claims

Jul 13, 2016
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Univision

Op-Ed: Prosecuting Migrants Is An Indefensible Failure

Roughly 35 years ago mass incarceration was born in the United States. It began with draconian drug laws which disproportionately targeted the poor and communities of color. It then spread to other social ills, like mental illness and homelessness, which -- like drug addiction -- were punished rather than treated.

As the U.S. has become the prison capital of the world, many now recognize that mass incarceration is a moral failure. In 2014, 30 states passed laws aimed to reduce their prison populations. In November of last year, 6,000 drug offenders were released early from federal prison because of a retroactive reduction in drug sentences. An additional 8,550 individuals could be eligible for release this November.

Yet while bipartisan support to end mass incarceration has grown, the drive to criminalize and incarcerate immigrants has intensified. A new book released today by Grassroots Leadership and Justice Strategies, “Indefensible: A Decade of Mass Incarceration of Migrants Prosecuted for Crossing the Border,” demonstrates the inhumanity, futility, and exorbitant costs of criminalizing immigration. Read more about Op-Ed: Prosecuting Migrants Is An Indefensible Failure

Jul 14, 2016
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Common Dreams

End 'Operation Streamline': How One Human Rights Disaster is Driving Several More

The 10-year-old, controversial "Operation Streamline," through which immigrants who cross the border are targeted for criminal prosecution, is wasting taxpayer dollars, tearing apart families, and driving mass incarceration, according to a new report. 

The analysis from nonprofit groups Justice Strategies and Grassroots Leadership, released Wednesday in the form of a book (pdf), is based on interviews with judges, public defenders, advocates, activists, former prosecutors, and individuals who have been prosecuted as well as their families. "It was clear from talking to actors throughout this system that it is broken in every way," the report reads. Read more about End 'Operation Streamline': How One Human Rights Disaster is Driving Several More

Jul 14, 2016
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Tucson Sentinel

Advocates: Fast-track immigration courts costly, ineffective

The report, titled "Indefensible: A decade of mass incarceration of migrants prosecuted for crossing the border" was a written by Grassroots Leadership and Justice Strategies, two research and advocacy groups focused on reducing incarceration and lobbying against private prisons. 

After 10 years, nearly three-quarters of a million people have been prosecuted through Operation Streamline, said Judy A. Greene, director of Justice Strategies and one of the report's co-authors. "This gobbles up half of the federal court docket, where nearly half of federal prosecutions are for essentially trespassing," she said. 

"This policy has resulted in a human rights disaster. It’s ineffective, it’s wasteful and it’s failed by every measure," Greene said. Read more about Advocates: Fast-track immigration courts costly, ineffective

Jul 14, 2016
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The Guardian

Prosecutions of illegal entry a driving force in mass incarceration in US – report

The Obama administration’s prosecution of immigrants who cross the border into the US is a driving force in mass incarceration, according to a new report.

Cases against immigrants for having illegally entered the country, known as illegal entry and re-entry, accounted for half of all criminal cases in the US federal court system last year, a report from Justice Strategies and Grassroots Leadership found. Non-citizens currently make up nearly a quarter of the total federal prison population, with Mexican nationals alone accounting for 15%.

Now several US judges who sentenced thousands of immigrants say the zero-tolerance policy for such cases they helped enforce was ineffective and should end.

“The only thing we have done is destroyed the lives of many people whose only crime is a desire to exercise their human rights to feed and care for themselves and their families,” said retired judge Felix Recio, who served as a federal magistrate from 1999 to 2013 in Brownsville, Texas, across the border from Matamoros, Mexico. Read more about Prosecutions of illegal entry a driving force in mass incarceration in US – report

The mass prosecution of migrants at the border, like mass incarceration, is an #Indefensible failure

Today, we published Indefensible: A decade of mass incarceration of migrants prosecuted for crossing the border with our partners at Justice Strategies.  

Read it online free now. 

Ten years ago, a new policy was named “Operation Streamline.” It is known for mass hearings in which up to 80 migrants are arraigned, found guilty, convicted and sentenced simultaneously for “improper entry,” a misdemeanor. The policy has long been decried by immigrant rights advocates. But the mass hearings, as shocking as they are, are only the tip of the iceberg. Lesser known is the widespread expansion of felony “re-entry” prosecutions and the mass incarceration of migrants that  that came with the Streamline program.

Indefensible is an in-depth investigation into the costs and failures of a decade-old bad idea that has wasted millions of dollars and inflicted an incalculable amount of human suffering. Read more about The mass prosecution of migrants at the border, like mass incarceration, is an #Indefensible failure

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