CIVIC’s National Monthly Call: January 2013

CIVIC Leadership Council member Sally Pillay of IRATE & First Friends in New Jersey organized this month’s national visitation call.   We had a special guest speaker, Alexis Mazon from Justice Strategies, who spoke about “Operation Streamline.”  

Our country’s current debate over comprehensive immigration reform completely overlooks the fact that federal spending on immigration enforcement now surpasses all other federal law enforcement activities combined because of costly programs like Operation Streamline.  

Started in 2005 as a program of the Department of Homeland Security, Operation Streamline criminalizes undocumented immigrants and funnels them into the federal criminal justice system.  According to the Warren Institute at UC Berkeley, Operation Streamline mainly targets migrant workers with no criminal history and has resulted in skyrocketing caseloads in many federal district courts along the border.

Immigrants charged criminally under this program are sentenced to spend years in one of 13 “Criminal Alien Requirement” (CAR) prisons that use taxpayer funds to warehouse immigrants in substandard privately-owned, privately-operated immigrant prisons segregated from the broader Bureau of Prisons population:


Company Facilty
CCA Adams Cty Corr Ctr Ci
GEO Big Spring CI
CCA Cibola County CI
GEO D. Ray James Correctional Facility CI
MTC Glies W. Dalby CI
CCA Eden CI
CEC (Community Education Centers) Limestone DC
CCA McRae CI
GEO Moshannon Valley CI
CCA NE Ohio Corr Ctr CI
GEO Reeves I & II CI
GEO Reeves III CI DC
MTC Taft CI
MTC Taft Camp
MTC (Management & Training Corp) Willacy County CI

For more information on each facility, download this document here.

Participating agencies in this operation include U.S. Border Patrol, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detention and Removal, Federal Pre-trial Services, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the U.S. Marshals Service.

Operation Streamline is part of a broader trend of criminally charging immigrants under one of two federal crimes: 8 USC § 1325, unlawful entry of an immigrant, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in custody, or 8 USC § 1326, unlawful re-entry of a deported immigrant, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison.

An undocumented immigrant who is apprehended crossing the border can either be deported, placed into the traditional civil immigration detention system, released into the community for humanitrian reasons, or prosecuted criminally and sentenced for years.  

According to Alexis Mazon, the choice is completely random.  The federal government may choose to funnel say 70 people each day into the criminal justice system, and it is completely random which 70 people are selected.

Federal immigration arrests have doubled since 2005 when Operation Streamline was put into effect, and the number of criminal immigration suspects referred to U.S. attorneys’ offices has jumped from fewer than 40,000 in 2006 to more than 84,000 in 2010, according to a Bureau of Justice Statistics report released this summer.

To learn more about Operation Streamline and CAR facilities, download Justice Strategies’ report, Privately Operated Federal Prisons for Immigrants: Expensive. Unsafe. Unnecessary.  The report chronicles the May 2012 Adams County Correctional Center uprising in Natchez, Mississippi, a private for-profit facility operated by Corrections Corporation of America, under contract with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The report details some of the tragic personal consequences for Juan Villanueva, his family, and others caught in the midst of the horrific conditions at the facility, leading to the insurrection. The report weaves into this narrative a look at the rise and fall of the private prison industry, and its resurrection through the benefit of federal contracts to detain and imprison undocumented immigrants, in an atmosphere of moral panic after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Also, check out a new report released by Families for Freedom in collaboration with New York University (NYU) Immigrant Rights Clinic entitled, Uncovering USBP: Bonus Programs for United States Border Patrol Agents and the Arrest of Lawfully Present Individuals, which reveals crucial information about the incentives and consequences of Border Patrol practices. Using detailed new data from the Border Patrol station in Rochester, New York and the Buffalo Sector that were obtained through a Freedom of Information lawsuit, the report reveals the existence of various incentive programs provided to Border Patrol agents in their quest to apprehend individuals of color, many of whom have legal status.  The report also documents the broad array of persons with lawful status who suffer at the hands of the Border Patrol.  The report contains the first data on U.S. Border Patrols’ discretionary bonus programs that include cash bonuses, vacation awards, and distribution of gift cards to border patrol agents.  The report also provides evidence that the vast majority of those wrongfully arrested were from South Asian, East Asian, African, and Caribbean backgrounds.