Monday, June 2, 2008

Operation Streamline -- Charging Bordercrossers With Crimes

For the last year Homeland Security has been charging illegal border crossers with crimes such as using someone else's Social Security numbered. Lately it, along with the Justice Department, has proclaimed it a success. The intent is not to charge every one crossing the border illegally with a crime, but enough to send a message. The program has been reserved for areas with less traffic, though recently it was used in Iowa (See post for May 24, 2008). Homeland Security attributes a decline in apprehensions at the border as a sign that the message is getting through. Migrants are thinking twice, since an illegal crossing might end in doing time in prison before deportation and having a criminal record that will cut off every chance of legal entry. Critics argue ithis approach is like going after a mouse with an elephant gun. Precious and limited resources are being diverted from pursing serious crimes, and courts and jails are needlessly being clogged. Even some on the border complain normal enforcement might collapse under the strain of extending the program. (See Washington Post article.)

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