Jeff Flake - U.S. Senator ~ Arizona

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Flake, McCain Introduce Resolution on Operation Streamline

Legislation stresses importance of maintaining prosecution of first-time illegal border crossers

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), today introduced S. Res. 104, legislation expressing the sense of the Senate regarding Operation Streamline, a program that has seen success in reducing recidivism among illegal border crossers. The resolution, which is co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), also calls on the Obama administration to immediately remove any directives or policies that would bar the prosecutions of first-time border crossers under this program.

Operation Streamline is a joint initiative administered by the departments of Homeland Security and Justice. In place since 2005, the program has been associated with a zero-tolerance approach, including criminally prosecuting illegal border crossers. It has been effective in the Border Patrol’s Yuma, Ariz., sector, with apprehensions dropping from 140,000 in 2005 – the year Operation Streamline was implemented – to less than 6,000 in 2014. By comparison, the Tucson sector, experienced more than 87,000 illegal crossings last year.

Despite Operation Streamline’s demonstrated success, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona will reportedly no longer be prosecuting first-time illegal border crossers. This threatens the program’s established effectiveness as a constraint on illegal-immigration.

“For too long, Arizonans have paid a disproportionate price when it comes to illegal immigration,” said Flake. “The Obama administration’s rollback of prosecutions under Operation Streamline threatens to water down an effective deterrent for illegal border crossers. At the very least, the steps that have led to some measure of improvement at the border should be preserved.”

“Arizona’s Yuma Sector has gone from being one of the busiest sectors for illegal immigration in the U.S. to one of the most secure thanks to the stepped-up efforts of our law enforcement officials under Operation Streamline,” said McCain. “Despite this success, the Obama administration continues to scale back important progress by ceasing to prosecute illegal border crossers. The citizens of Arizona cannot afford to lose the gains that have been made to secure the southern border, and I will not stop fighting to ensure that we have the best policies in place to keep our communities safe.”

The text of the resolution can be found here.