Putting TRAC to Work
  Legal and Scholarly
Population and Development Program, Hampshire College
September 2013

Warehousing the Poor: How Federal Prosecution Initiatives like “Operation Streamline” Hurt Immigrants, Drive Mass Incarceration and Damage U.S. Communities
By Geoffrey Boyce and Sarah Launius

As a result of these developments, immigration-related cases today outpace all other federal criminal cases combined, and more than half of all those entering federal prison are Latino. Operation Streamline began in 2005 in the U.S. Border Patrol’s Del Rio Sector. Originally, the idea of the program was to inaugurate a “zero tolerance” approach involving mandatory criminal prosecution of all those whom the Border Patrol apprehended within a defined spatial area. By 2008 Streamline had expanded to the Border Patrol’s Yuma, Laredo, Tucson and El Paso sectors. Today Streamline is active in eight of the nine sectors in the U.S. southwest. Individuals prosecuted under Streamline are typically charged with “illegal entry,” a misdemeanor under U.S. Code Section 1325 punishable by up to 180 days in prison, or “illegal re-entry,” a felony under 8 U.S. Code Section 1326, punishable by up to two years for most defendants or 20 years for anyone previously convicted of an “aggravated felony” in the United States. Often individuals are charged under both statutes, in what attorneys call a “flip-flop” agreement; by accepting a plea for the lesser charge, prosecutors agree to drop the greater. In 2011, a total of 61,990 individuals were prosecuted for “illegal entry” or “re-entry” in U.S. jurisdictions using some version of Operation Streamline......[Citing TRAC research].

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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