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Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

Sen. Flake requests that Sessions restore zero-tolerance approach to first time illegal border crossers

Jeff Flake

U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) recently sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting that he reenact Operation Streamline’s zero-tolerance approach to illegal border crossings and reverse actions from the Obama Administration that undermined the program’s intent.

Flake’s letter serves as a follow-up to Sessions’ January confirmation hearing, in which the now-Attorney General agreed that the program should be restored to its original form. Sessions also said he would consider expanding the program to other areas along the border.

“Operation Streamline has largely been credited with helping achieve effective control in the Border Patrol Yuma Sector, which saw a 95 percent decrease in apprehensions after implementing the program,” Flake wrote. “Unfortunately, despite its effectiveness, the previous administration sought to water down its deterrent effect by shifting its policy to only first-time illegal border crossers whom had a known criminal history or were otherwise a threat to public safety.”

During the 114th Congress, Flake, along with U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), introduced a Senate Resolution which called on the Obama Administration to reverse any policies that prevented first-time offenders from being prosecuted under Operation Streamline.

Beginning in 2005 as a joint initiative within the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Operation Streamline program takes a zero-tolerance approach to illegal immigration practices by criminally prosecuting any person who engages in it. By 2010, every U.S.-Mexico border sector outside of California had implemented the program.

Provisions of the program include the bundling and rapid processing of illegal immigration cases and expedited removals from the United States, along with steps for asylum seekers to request credible fear interviews.

Sessions has yet to formally respond to Flake’s letter.