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by Grassroots Leadership category: Cause
For ten years, tens of thousands of migrants have been criminally prosecuted for entering and re-entering the U.S. under a policy called Operation Streamline. It's common to see 50-80 migrants prosecuted at once in the same courtroom in proceedings that collapse the initial appearance, indictment, and conviction into one proceeding. In many cases, defendants have no right to privacy and often meet with attorneys in front of others in the courtroom, shortly before proceedings begin. This policy has continued for 10 years despite the fact that it violates international law, including U.S. obligations under Article 31(1) of the Refugee Convention, which prohibits referring asylum seekers for criminal prosecution. These prosecutions criminalize people who are coming to reunite with family, seek asylum, and economically sustain themselves and their families.
“Illegal entry” and “illegal re-entry” are now the two top criminal charges being filed in our federal court system; together they comprise nearly 50 percent of the entire number of the cases filed for prosecution. At a time when sentencing reform in our criminal justice system has gained bipartisan support, these mass prosecutions continue to funnel immigrants into segregated Criminal Alien Requirement prisons run by for-profit prison corporations.
Furthermore, Operation Streamline is not even proven to meet its stated policy goal. 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.
December 16th is the 10th anniversary of Operation Streamline. Let's stand together to reject the criminalization of our communities through this inhumane and ineffective policy!
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.