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.
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.Read more about Secret's Out: McAllen, TX Seeking New Private Prison
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.”
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: Read more about Op. Streamline swells Latino representation in federal prison system
Last week, the National Catholic Reporter ran an insightful and critical article on the impact of Operation Streamline (“A ‘maddening’ system, from courtrooms to shelters,” July 1st) in Tuscon, Arizona. The article starts with a typical description of the kind of “justice” provided under Streamline: Read more about Judge Bernardo P. Velasco criticizes Operation Streamline, calls policy “maddening” and ineffective
A newly released report from TRAC shows what this blog has documented since its inception – a massive increase in the use of federal criminal prosecutions for border-crossers in districts along the border. Previous to Operation Streamline, most border-crossers would have been deported, but not criminally prosecuted.
Now, we are seeing record prosecutions for immigration violations while national prosecutions of other felonies have actually declined. According to the report from TRAC: Read more about TRAC numbers confirm shift towards immigration prosecutions
I found this article in the Arizona Daily Star (“Judge asks to delay felony trials,” January 5) to be interesting. It appears that Operation Streamline and an influx of cases in the Tuscon area generally is contributing to a crisis of sorts in the federal judicial system. Here are the highlights: Read more about Is Op. Streamline causing a “judicial emergency” in Arizona?
The Yuma Sun (“Yuma Sector expands Operation Streamline,” December 20) is reporting that the Yuma sector of the Border Patrol will expand Operation Streamline into the neighboring area of Ajo, Read more about Yuma sector to expand Op. Streamline