December 16th marked the 10th anniversary of Operation Streamline, a policy whose implementation greatly increased the mass prosecution of migrants for what the government calls “illegal entry” and “illegal reentry.” These immigration prosecutions have become the most prosecuted crimes in the entire federal court system and have send tens of thousands of migrants to federal jails and prison every year, contributing to mass incarceration that only benefits private prison corporations.
Beginning last Wednesday December 9, a coalition of organizations kicked off the national days of action to end these prosecutions, which included actions in Austin, Tucson, and McAllen as well as an online petition and social media campaign. Here’s what happened!
On Friday, December 11, in Austin during the U.S. Human Rights Network Conference, Grassroots Leadership held a march to the federal courthouse where community members performed street theater and called on the Department of Justice to end Operation Streamline and the prosecution of migrants.
On Monday, December 14, a group of twelve Arizona clergy were present to witness the Operation Streamline hearing at the Federal Courthouse in Tucson. One-by-one, eight of them stood up, offered prayers, read scripture and disrupted the proceedings. The court sentenced 59 individuals to between 30 and 180 days in federal prison. Several of the migrants spoke about their desperation to reunite with family in the United States, explaining to the judge that unlawful entry was their only means of doing so. After the judge issued the sentence on behalf of the court, condemning the migrants to serve prison sentences, the clergymen shouted out, "You (the shackled migrant workers) are not guilty -this court is guilty of injustice to the migrant poor and their families," in English, then in Spanish "Tu no eres culpable, esta corte es culpable!"
Here is an excerpt of the statement the 12 clergy members prepared:
Click here to read more statements from clergy members.
On Wednesday, December 16, Tucson community members gathered at the Federal Courthouse in Tucson for street theater with puppets followed by a press conference. Speakers included advocates from the American Friends Service Committee, Coalicion de Derechos Humanos, the End Streamline Coalition, Southside Presbyterian Church and Norlan Flores of the Southside Worker's Center, who was placed in Operation Streamline following a traffic stop in Tucson.
Also on Wednesday, 136 of these messages went out at once on social media at 12 noon CT through the Thunderclap to End Operation Streamline!
The message links to the petition to end Operation Streamline and the prosecution of migrants. The petition, initiated during the days of action has received more than 100 signatures in the past week. It will remain open to educate others about Operation Streamline and continue to pressure the Department of Justice to end the prosecutions.