Privatized Detention and Operation Streamline 2008: An Archive

Back in May, Jay Johnson-Castro was walking through Arizona, talking about a federal plan called “Operation Endgame” to remove every last undocumented migrant from the USA. Meanwhile, Operation Streamline had been well underway — a federal program developed in Del Rio, Texas, that sentences undocumented migrants to one month in jail before they are shipped back home. In March, the monthly total of migrants prosecuted had reached a record 9,350 per month, “up by almost 50% from the previous month and 73% from the previous year” says the TRAC project of Syracuse Univ. Many of the new detention facilities along the border are operated for shareholder profit. Below is a series of clips about the campaign to produce a nation for profit only:–gm

New Year 2008

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during January 2008 the government reported 4739 new immigration prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 21.6% over the previous month, [and represents the largest monthly number of such prosecutions in the past seven years].

Virtually all federal criminal prosecutions for immigration offenses in January 2008 (99 percent) were referred by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The two lead investigative agencies in DHS are Customs and Border Protection (CBP) whose border patrol agencies guard the county’s borders, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), responsible for conducting most immigration criminal investigations under the immigration laws.

In January 2008, 67 percent of immigration cases for these matters took place in U.S. Magistrate Courts which handle less serious misdemeanor cases, including what are called “petty offenses.” In the magistrate courts in January the most frequently cited lead charge was Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325 involving the “Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc.”. This was the lead charge for 56 percent of all magistrate filings in January. Other frequently prosecuted lead charges include: “8 USC 1326 – Reentry of deported alien” (35.3%), “8 USC 1324 – Bringing in and harboring certain aliens” (5.8%).

The Southern District of Texas (Houston)—with 354 prosecutions—was the most active during January 2008. The Southern District of Texas (Houston) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.

Immigration Prosecutions for January 2008,” TRAC, Syracuse Univ. (Apr. 30, 2008).

Quoted in Cali

“The private prison industry was on the verge of bankruptcy in the late 1990s, until the feds bailed them out with the immigration-detention contracts,” said Michele Deitch, an expert on prison privatization with the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas in Austin.

Tougher immigration laws turn the ailing private prison sector into a revenue maker. By Leslie Berestein. San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER (May 4, 2008)

Meanwhile

No government body is required to keep track of deaths [of immigrants in detention] and publicly report them. No independent inquiry is mandated. And often relatives who try to investigate the treatment of those who died say they are stymied by fear of immigration authorities, lack of access to lawyers, or sheer distance.

Few Details on Immigrants Who Died in Custody. By NINA BERNSTEIN. New York Times. Published: May 5, 2008

Shoot the Messenger

So it was no surprise that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials were upset about a four-part series that ran May 11-14, about the health care of immigrant detainees.

Veteran reporters Dana Priest and Amy Goldstein detailed mistakes that led to some of the 83 detainee deaths in the past five years, showed serious gaps in mental health treatment, suicides that could have been prevented and the medically unnecessary drugging of deportees for the trip back to their home countries. Immigrant health care is managed by ICE’s Division of Immigration Health Services.

An Investigation Raises Ire at ICE,” By Deborah Howell. The Washington Post (Sunday, June 8, 2008; Page B06)

Stop

In 2007, the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) rounded up more than 30,000 immigrants in raids. While more than 186,000 immigrants were deported in 2006, an alarming 300,000 were detained in immigrant detention centers, such as the T. Don Hutto Center in
Taylor, in 2007 alone. According to ICE, the purpose of immigrant detention centers is to “detain and remove criminal and other deportable aliens … in part of the strategy to deter illegal immigration and protect public safety.”

Put for-profit detention centers on ICE. By Ulylesia Thompson, Carla Bates & Sarah Robinson. The Daily Texan (4/30/08).

Full Steam Ahead

The federal government is accepting bids for up to three new family detention centers that would house as many as 600 men, women and children fighting deportation cases.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued a call for proposals last month and set June 16 as the deadline. New facilities are being considered on both coasts and on the Southwestern border. The agency calls for minimum-security residential facilities that would provide a “least restrictive, nonsecure setting” and provide schooling for children, recreational activities and access to religious services.

Immigration agency plans new family detention centers: The federal ICE, which already runs two such facilities, is taking bids for as many as three more. Critics say detaining families is punitive and unnecessary.
By Anna Gorman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer (May 18, 2008).

P.S.

It would be ludicrously gullible to swallow the government propaganda that “The need to imprison families stems from the presence of so many illegal families sneaking across the border or hiding in the United States.”

In truth, the “need” to imprison families stems from the “need” of congress members and the executive branch to deliver taxpayers’ money to prison for profit corporations like Wackenhut and CCCA, that buy their elections, to build more prisons and fill them up, so the politicians can continue to send our money to the prison profiteers, so they can continue buying the politicians, and so goes the cycle.

Of course, the for-profit prisons are not the only pigs that our government slops at the tax trough. But in combination with other special interests like money lenders and war profiteers, they use the media to keep us taxpayers in a frenzy of hate and xenophobia, so that when we go to the grocery store or the gas pump or pay the electric bill we will not think straight about what they are doing with our money.

John Wheat Gibson
via email (May 19, 2008).

A New Deal for a New Century

WATERLOO, Iowa — In temporary courtrooms at a fairgrounds here, 270 illegal immigrants were sentenced this week to five months in prison for working at a meatpacking plant with false documents.

The prosecutions, which ended Friday, signal a sharp escalation in the Bush a
dministration’s crackdown on illegal workers, with prosecutors bringing tough federal criminal charges against most of the immigrants arrested in a May 12 raid. Until now, unauthorized workers have generally been detained by immigration officials for civil violations and rapidly deported.

270 Illegal Immigrants Sent to Prison in Federal Push.” By JULIA PRESTON. New York Times. Published: May 24, 2008.

Immigration Prosecutions Up

The latest available data from the Justice Department show that during February 2008 the government reported 7251 new immigration prosecutions. According to the case-by-case information analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), this number is up 82.9% over the previous month.

Among these top ten lead charges, the one showing the greatest increase in prosecutions—up 56.6 percent—compared to one year ago was Title 8 U.S.C Section 1325 that involves ” Entry of alien at improper time or place; etc. “. Compared to five years ago, the largest increase—156.4 percent—was registered for prosecutions under ” Fraud and related activity – id documents ” (Title 18 U.S.C Section 1028 ).

The Southern District of Texas (Houston)—with 338 prosecutions—was the most active during February 2008. The Southern District of Texas (Houston) was ranked 1 a year ago, while it was ranked 1 five years ago.

The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) ranked 2nd. The Western District of Texas (San Antonio) was ranked 2 a year ago, while it was ranked 4 five years ago.

Immigration Prosecutions for February 2008,” TRAC, Syracuse Univ. (May, 2008).

Heart o Texas

In recent years, about three to five people a month were charged in U.S. District Court in Austin with returning to the United States after deportation. In March . . . 17 people were charged with the crime in federal court in Austin, according to an American-Statesman review of cases.

In April, federal prosecutors in Austin charged 21 people with illegally re-entering the United States after deportation, and this month they have charged 25, according to the review. A total of eight people were charged in January and February.

More illegal immigrants are being charged criminally in Austin: Prison time comes before deportation for some,” By Steven Kreytak, AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF (Wednesday, May 28, 2008)

Streamlining Criminalization for Profit

Although Operation Streamline has raised criticism in other places like Del Rio, the Valley Morning Star says that it is now hitting our Valley. “The Border Patrol rolled out the policy Monday (June 9) along a four-mile stretch of Cameron County’s border with Mexico from Brownsville to Fort Brown.”

“Formerly, first time offenders were offered the option of voluntary deportation and were processed, put on a bus and sent back to Mexico within hours of their arrest.” But under Operation Streamline they will be “detained, sent to court, jailed for up to 180 days if found guilty, and then deported.”

In Del Rio where this policy was recently tried, one federal Public Defender, William Fry, was quoted as worrying about due process. “We get a case on Wednesday and the court expects us to be ready to go by Friday. That’s not enough time to adequately represent a client.”

“Operation Streamline Criminalizes the Rio Grande Valley,” Nick Braune, Texas Civil Rights Review (June 16, 2008)

It’s Official: March Prosecutions Set Record

Federal immigration prosecutions continued their recent and highly unusual surge in March 2008, apparently reaching an all-time high, according to timely data obtained from the Justice Department by TRAC. The total of 9,350 such prosecutions was up by almost 50% from the previous month and 73% from the previous year.

The data further show that virtually every one of the individuals referred by the investigative agencies for prosecution — 99% of them — are then being charged by the U.S. Attorneys, and that the resulting median or typical sentence is one month.

Surge in Immigration Prosecutions Continues.” TRAC Immigration. Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (trac.syr.edu: June 17, 2008)

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