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  Policy and Public Interest Groups
National Immigration Forum
September 2012

Operation Streamline: Unproven Benefits Outweighed by Cost to Taxpayers

Operation Streamline prosecutions have significantly burdened our federal criminal courts and incarceration system. During the Bush Administration, federal criminal prosecutions for immigration offenses more than quadrupled while federal prosecutions of other crimes substantially decreased. Under the Obama Administration, the numbers of criminal immigration prosecutions have continued to grow; as seen in Image 1, of the 169,612 federal criminal filings in 2009, nearly 92,000 were immigration charges. This is a staggering share compared to 79,431 federal immigration filings in the previous year and fewer than 20,000 in FY 2000. Ninety-two percent (or 84,301) of the immigration charges in 2009 were for illegal entry or reentry into the United States, i.e., they did not involve identity theft, fraud, or smuggling. The pace of federal immigration prosecutions has dipped in recent years; in FY2011, there were a total of 63,343 prosecutions for illegal entry and illegal reentry. DHS itself has directly linked Operation Streamline to 30,000 prosecutions that took place over one year between April 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011, noting that more than half of these occurred in the Tucson Sector. However, the exact numbers of direct Operation Streamline prosecutions are hard to come by as the government does not indicate which federal prosecution originates from which of its programs. However, when looking at Image 2 it is not hard to see Operation Streamline’s impact. The program was started in 2005 and Image 2 shows the dramatic growth of prosecutions under §§ 1325 and 1326 in subsequent years.....[citing TRAC research].

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
Copyright 2012
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