Operation Streamline

Apr 13, 2018
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La Opinion

La “cero tolerancia” en la frontera de Estados Unidos no desalentará a quienes huyen por su vida: expertos

"Algo que sí logra este tipo de medida es engrosar las ganancias de cárceles privadas y gastar mucho dinero del erario público, sin que se haya comprobado la efectividad de la medida para detener futura inmigración. Según un estudio del grupo Grassroots Leadership, Operation Streamline ha costado al menos 7,000 millones de dólares desde su origen." Read more about La “cero tolerancia” en la frontera de Estados Unidos no desalentará a quienes huyen por su vida: expertos

Aug 25, 2017
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Houston Chronicle

Streamlined: Trump pressing for mass criminalization of illegal border crossers

DEL RIO - The shackled migrants in orange jumpsuits shuffled into this border town's small federal courtroom one recent morning, each facing a short prison sentence and swift deportation for the federal crime of entering the United States illegally.

In other areas along the border, they might have been simply detained before being quickly removed in an administrative process outside of any courtroom. Perhaps, some would have had a chance to make their case to an immigration judge.

But it was here, in 2005, that frustrated Border Patrol agents developed a program they named Operation Streamline to prosecute all migrants caught within a stretch of the border en masse and channel them into the federal justice system, where the Bureau of Prisons has more resources to hold them for longer before deportation.

So it took U.S. Magistrate Judge Collis White little more than an hour to read all of the 29 shackled defendants their rights, describe their crime of entering without inspection, and then go around the courtroom, inquiring whether they wanted to plead guilty.

Sharing a single defense lawyer, all said they did.

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Now, President Donald Trump's administration is expanding this program of dizzyingly fast mass convictions to other federal courts along the border in Arizona, even California, and has, under a new directive from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, ordered U.S. attorneys across America to prioritize such immigration prosecutions.

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The expense to the federal courts and Bureau of Prisons of criminalizing what is usually a civil offense is staggering. Detaining migrants on such charges alone costs some $1 billion a year, according to estimates by Grassroots Leadership, an advocacy group in Austin opposing incarceration. Read more about Streamlined: Trump pressing for mass criminalization of illegal border crossers

Jul 19, 2017
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The Huffington Post

Immigrants Appear Unshackled Before Judge In Arizona After Federal Ruling

TUCSON, Ariz. ― Immigrants facing prosecution for crossing the border illegally appeared before a judge without shackles for the first time in years here Tuesday, after a landmark ruling ordered the federal courts in Arizona to stop routinely restraining people who don’t present a security threat.

The ruling applies to anyone facing federal criminal charges in Arizona. But it disproportionately affects Operation Streamline, an immigration-prosecution program that allows judges to group defendants to speed up hearings for those accused of crossing the border illegally.

Some public defenders and immigrant rights groups viewed the change as a positive, if limited, development. Bob Libal, director of the Texas-based group Grassroots Leadership, told HuffPost: “It makes the process seem less overtly dehumanizing. I think it’s a good thing that people aren’t in shackles, and it’s a terrible thing that we’re prosecuting dozens and dozens of people daily for the crime of coming to the country.”

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The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling May 31 that it is unconstitutional to indiscriminately force defendants to appear before a federal judge in shackles. Instead, judges have to decide if each individual defendant poses a security risk that would require restraints.

“A presumptively innocent defendant has the right to be treated with respect and dignity in a public courtroom, not like a bear on a chain,” the opinion reads

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It’s unclear how the ruling will affect immigrant prosecutions in the future, according to Cosme Lopez, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arizona.

“We’re waiting for everything to clear,” Lopez told HuffPost. “We’re taking it one day at a time.”

The U.S. District Court for the state of Arizona has until Friday to respond to last week’s ruling ordering the state to stop routinely shackling defendants. The order may change after it does so. Read more about Immigrants Appear Unshackled Before Judge In Arizona After Federal Ruling

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 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

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