Tuesday, March 2, 2010

In January, the Warren Institute issued a report on the Department of Homeland Security’s Operation Streamline that has been getting much attention in the media and in the blogosphere. The report interests me because it challenges the government’s broken windows theory of immigration enforcement. Operation Streamline targets as priorities for prosecution such low-level immigration violations as entry without inspection and re-entry after removal. The program has stripped prosecutors of their discretion to prosecute such cases. The vast majority of defendants under the program have been migrant workers with no criminal history. The rationale for the policy has been that it enhances the government’s ability to secure its borders, especially in the Southwest. In fact, the report found, prosecutions of serious security-related crimes such as drug trafficking and alien smuggling have declined or increased very little at the same time that petty immigration prosecutions have dramatically increased under the program. The results are important. Advocates who decry the racial profiling aspects of these low-level prosecutions have support in a report that quantifies the negative enforcement effects of the policy. The report calls for an end to the policy because of its waste of resources and it also calls for restoration of prosecutorial discretion. I would add that given the facts in the report, Operation Streamline’s purported goals of decreasing border crossings and increasing border security do not outweigh the racial profiling implications of the policy. The report can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for bringing this very important report to our attention! It is critical to bring facts and reality to the immigration debate.


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