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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Humpday Hall of Shame - Henry Cuellar wants kids deported ASAP, hauls in private prison cash

Today’s Humpday Hall of Shame award goes to a repeat dis-honoree: Representative Henry Cuellar, Democrat from Laredo, Texas.  Yesterday, Cuellar teamed with Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) to introduce the Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency Act.  The HUMANE Act, despite its name, guts legal protection for unaccompanied migrant children and speeds their deportation. 

Cuellar’s public push to detain and deport migrant children drew a rebuke (The Hill, July 11, 2014) last week from the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.  CHC’s chairman Ruben Hinojosa, a fellow Texan told reporters at a press conference that:  "Henry Cuellar does not represent the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. He's a Blue Dog; he comes to the meetings once in a long time."  

The CHC has called for maintaining legal protections for children from Central America and allowing kids to be able to fight their cases in courts rather than through an expedited deportation policy.    Experts have noted that Honduras — the country where the most unaccompanied children are migrating — has the highest murder rate in the world and that rapid deportation of children and families would result in some of those deportees being killed.   


Obama administration offers poor response to a humanitarian crisis

A disappointing decision by the Obama administration was announced Friday morning in response to a recent influx of Central American migrants crossing through the Southwest border, many of them children. According to officials, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will seek to detain more of these individuals and accelerate their cases in immigration courts to speed up their deportations. [node:read-more:link]

Felony prosecutions of migrants at the border are on the rise and Arizona is behind it

According to researchers at Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), the first six months of FY 2014 have seen substantial changes in the criminal enforcement of immigration laws among those districts along the border with Mexico.

There has been a drop in the number of criminal prosecutions for "illegal entry" under 8 USC 1325, but a continued rise in prosecutions for "illegal re-entry" (8 USC 1326). 

Crossing the border was once a matter for civil immigration courts but is now handled in federal criminal courts along the border. Under this program, known as Operation Streamline, people caught crossing the border are criminally charged with either unauthorized entry (a misdemeanor) or unauthorized re-entry (a felony). 


Part 2 of KSAT-San Antonio exposé follows the private prison money trail

On Friday, KSAT – San Antonio ran Corportations profit from immigration system, part two of reporter Steve Spriester’s Defender’s Investigation into the shady practices of private prison corporations. Spriester’s exposé – which featured Grassroots Leadership Executive Director Bob Libal – revealed the way in which private prison corporations strategically pour money into campaign contribution and lobbying efforts that will produce benefits for their bottom line by ensuring a large and steady flow of detainees.

As Spreister put it, “A stalemate on immigration reform in this country is very good for their business.”

Added Libal, "They're banking on there being a steady and increasing number of immigrants behind bars."



Victory - McAllen, TX City Commission Rejects Proposal to Build a New Private Prison!


Grassroots Leadership and our allies are celebrating today as the McAllen, TX City Commission has rejected for-profit prison company GEO Group’s proposal to build a new private prison for immigrants!  

In July, we caught wind that the city planned to seek a private contractor to build and operate a new 1,000-bed facility under their existing contract with the U.S. Marshals Service.  In doing so, the city would have not only contributed to the expansion of an industry that reaps billions from incarcerating human beings, but also the rising trend of profiteering from the criminalization of migrants under Operation Streamline.  


Secret's Out: McAllen, TX Seeking New Private Prison

UPDATE:  There will be a public forum at McAllen City Hall on WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 11th at 5:30 PM for the residents of McAllen, TX to voice their views on the construction of a new private prison!  Click here to see details, sign the petition, and find out what you can do to make your voice heard.

This week, we learned that McAllen, TX has been keeping a dirty secret.  Located at the southern tip of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, the city plans to publish a formal request for qualifications this week from private prison operators willing to build a new 1,000-bed lock-up.  The new prison would house federal prisoners for the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) under an existing agreement with the city. 

McAllen police Chief Victor Rodriguez said, “There’s a great need to have their prisoners held in a facility that’s local.” Currently, the federal government pays McAllen $52 a day per prisoner housed at the Public Safety Building, located blocks from the courthouse, but only capable of housing 30 prisoners. USMS transports prisoners from private prisons in Laredo and La Villa to McAllen for court hearings, described as the cause of “logistical headaches” for the Marshals Service.  Under the new deal, the private prison operator would pay the city of McAllen to house prisoners, but that amount is still being negotiated.  The location of the new prison is also yet to be determined.


Operation Streamline Days of Action get underway in Texas and Arizona

This week, groups around the country will be holding press conferences, letter deliveries, and other actions to call on Congress to end Operation Streamline and the criminalization of immigration.

Operation Streamline, a little-known border enforcement program, is part of broader trend funneling immigrants into the criminal justice system and charging them with felony or misdemeanor crimes for crossing the border.   Senate and House negotiators are reportedly considering expanding funding of Operation Streamline and criminal prosecutions of immigrants as part of the comprehensive immigration reform bill being negotiated in Congress.

“These prosecutions channel billions of dollars to private prison corporations and are fueling the explosive growth in numbers of Latinos in federal prison,” said Bob Libal, Executive Director of Grassroots Leadership.  “It’s time that Congress moved to end Operation Streamline once and for all.” 


Op. Streamline swells Latino representation in federal prison system

More Latinos are going to prison, and not because they are committing more crimes than they did in the past.

That’s the analysis behind an Associated Press (“More Hispanics go to federal prison,” June 4) article last month.  The reason appears to be precisely the subject of this blog: Operation Streamline is driving more Latino immigrants into the criminal justice system and ultimately into federal prisons: [node:read-more:link]