Officials in Yuma County, Ariz., a border region long a hot spot for illegal immigration, say the Department of Justice is scaling back an established program that uses prosecution and imprisonment to discourage illegal border crossings.
Arizona’s two U.S. senators wrote U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder seeking confirmation that federal prosecutors based in the state — following directions from Washington — no longer will prosecute first-time border crossers under the program, Operation Streamline.
Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake, both Republicans, sent the letter to Holder on Monday after the top law enforcement official in Yuma County notified Flake about the changes. Under the shift, prosecutors would focus on high-priority targets such as illegal immigrants who also are convicted criminals.
The program, which originated in late 2005 under President George W. Bush, grew under President Obama and operates in Arizona and two other border states.
The new move, directed specifically at the U.S. Border Patrol’s Yuma sector, would put it in line with other areas that don’t follow Yuma’s “no tolerance” policy.
BROWNSVILLE Texas (Reuters) – With binoculars in hand, an assault rifle slung over his chest and a Glock pistol on his hip, a man named Will scans the banks of the Rio Grande looking for anyone trying to cross from Mexico into Texas.
Will is a member of the Patriots, a group of heavily armed private citizens who use displays of force to intimidate people attempting to cross the border illegally. Since early summer the Patriots have patrolled an area near Brownsville, Texas.
“If you spot them and shine your light on them, that lets them know that you’re there,” said the 25-year-old construction worker from Indiana who flew to Texas for a stint with the Patriots. “Nine times out of 10, they’re not going to come over.
“Even if they are going to try to cross again, we’re still making it harder for them, and that’s the reason we’re here.”