This Warren Institute report recently examined a Department of Homeland Security program that requires the federal criminal prosecution and imprisonment of all unlawful border crossers. The program, known as Operation Streamline, mainly targets migrant workers with no criminal history and has resulted in skyrocketing caseloads in many federal district courts along the border. From 2007 to 2008, federal prosecutions of immigration crimes nearly doubled, reaching more than 70,000 cases.
To understand how Operation Streamline is working, Warren Institute Coblentz Fellow, Joanna Lydgate, visited four cities where versions of the program are in place in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. She observed Operation Streamline court proceedings in each city and conducted numerous in-person and telephone interviews with judges, U.S. attorneys, defense attorneys, Border Patrol representatives, and immigration lawyers involved in Operation Streamline’s implementation. Her findings and report conclude that Operation Streamline raises significant legal and policy concerns. The program diverts crucial law enforcement resources away from fighting violent crime along the border, fails to effectively reduce undocumented immigration, and violates the U.S. Constitution. The policy brief is available here.
A supplement to this report, An Alternative to Operation Streamline: Border Enforcement in the Southern District of California, is available here.
This project was made possible with a grant from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.