Austin Joins Days of National Action to End Operation Streamline

December 9, 2015

Community members and U.S. Human Rights Conference participants march to federal courthouse to protest the criminal prosecution of migrants

WHAT: March & street theater action
WHO: Community members and U.S. Human Rights Conference participants
WHEN:   Friday December 11, 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: March from Hilton on E. 4th to Federal Courthouse Plaza (501 5th St.)

(AUSTIN, Texas) — On December 11, community members and U.S. Human Rights Network Conference participants will march from the Hilton on E. 4th St. to the Federal Courthouse Plaza, where they will perform street theater. On the steps of the Federal Courthouse in Austin, they will act out the inhumanity of the prosecutions that happen inside courthouses across the country, and demand an end to the mass prosecution of migrants.

They join border communities engaging in days of action from December 9-18 marking the 10th anniversary of Operation Streamline, a policy that initiated the mass prosecution of migrants for what the government calls “illegal entry” and “illegal reentry.”  Communities in Austin and McAllen, Texas and Tucson, Arizona will engage in marches, rallies, street theater, and court observation to call for an end to this policy that criminalizes migrants and contributes to mass incarceration of communities of color.

Operation Streamline is a policy that began in 2005 in Del Rio and subsequently spread to other border districts. “Illegal entry” and “illegal reentry” prosecutions criminalize people who are coming to reunite with family, seek asylum, and economically sustain themselves and their families. Almost 70,000 migrants — including some who may have had valid asylum claims — were criminally prosecuted at the border, during federal fiscal year 2015. The prosecution of migrants violates international law, including U.S. obligations under Article 31(1) of the Refugee Convention, which prohibits referring asylum seekers for criminal prosecution. The May 2015 report from the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General on the Streamline initiative finds that the performance metrics used by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are not sufficient to demonstrate that Border Patrol referrals of apprehended migrants for prosecution by U.S. Attorney’s Offices actually deter unauthorized migration. Incarceration costs for migration crimes total more than $1 billion per year, most of which flows into the pockets of the for-profit prison industry. Border communities and human rights defenders refuse to accept this inhumane and ineffective policy and stand together to support the dignity of all people and reject the criminalization of our communities.

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Grassroots Leadership is an Austin, Texas-based national organization that works to end prison profiteering and reduce reliance on criminalization and detention through direct action, organizing, research, and public education.

Contact: 

Bethany Carson, bcarson@grassrootsleadership.org, 512-499-8111