McCain and Kyle continue push for Streamline, ignore recent reports

Arizona Senators John McCain and Jon Kyl continued their push for full funding of Operation Streamline last week in what CQ Today (“Arizona Senators Slam Report on Anti-Illegal Immigration Program,” August 25), called:

an angry letter to the departments of Justice and Homeland Security Wednesday, criticizing the handling of a George W. Bush-era program that prosecutes illegal immigrants as criminals.

The Arizona Republicans complained that a congressionally mandated report on “Operation Streamline” from DHS’s Customs and Border Protection branch sent earlier in the month was insufficient.

“You had nearly a year to complete the report, which was due December 27, 2009,” Kyl and McCain said in their letter to Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. “We had hoped that you were using those extra eight months to complete a robust analysis about how to make Operation Streamline fully operational, in particular in the Tucson Sector.”

“Instead, the seven-page report amounts to an affirmation that CBP supports Operation Streamline and a collection of statistics that could easily be found on the Internet in a matter of minutes, not months,” the senators concluded.

I haven’t seen the 7-page document produced by Customs and Border Patrol, but the Senators may want to look at Lauren Gambino’s excellent report for“Program Prosecutes Illegal Immigrants Before Deporting Them,” August 2010) for information on the costs of fully implementing Streamline to CBP’s Tucson sector.  Gambino found that it would take an addition of 50,000 federal prison beds and between hundreds of millions of dollars and $1 billion dollars in additional annual incarceration costs to fully implement the program in the Tucson sector.  And those numbers don’t include additional court costs associated with the program.

These numbers are similar to what we found in Grassroots Leadership’s report Operation Streamline: Drowning Justice and Draining Dollars along the Rio Grande. Streamline-related detention costs in Texas have exceeded $1.2 billion since its inception in 2005.  Perhaps we should send these reports to Senators McCain and Kyl.