U.S. Border Patrol agent
U.S. Border Patrol agent

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The Los Angeles Times reports today that the Department of Homeland Security is making a significantly higher number of arrests along the U.S.-Mexico border under a joint DHS-Justice Department program called "Operation Streamline," which jails the suspect. The Times cites statistics released by Syracuse University that indicate immigration prosecutions hit an all-time high (9,350) in March 2008. That number is up 73% from last year. Here are some excerpts from the article:
"The prosecutions are among the most visible steps in a larger effort that includes work-site raids, increased border patrols and the use of technology and fences...'The results of this criminal prosecution initiative have been striking,' said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff...'The reason this works is because these illegal migrants come to realize that violating the law will not simply send them back to try over again but will require them to actually serve some short period of time in a jail or prison setting, and will brand them as having been violators of the law,' Chertoff said. 'That has a very significant deterrent impact.'"

Under Operation Streamline, illegal aliens caught along the border face federal criminal charges that require jail time. Those sentences are currently averaging one month. The program was initiated in December 2005 as a pilot project in Del Rio, Texas. DHS expanded it to Yuma, Ariz. a year later, and to Laredo, Texas in October 2007. The Times notes Chertoff plans to commit more resources to the program.

Quoting NumbersUSA Executive Director Roy Beck, The Times reports "'It sounds like very good news...It's part of a pattern we've seen since last August where the administration, on the border and in the interior, seems almost monthly to be tightening the vise.' "

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