TUCSON, Arizona – Activists gathered on Friday outside Tucson’s federal courthouse to denounce a program that mandates the jailing of undocumented migrants as emblematic of the militarization of the US-Mexico border.
“Operation Streamline has become a tangible symbol of the militarization and the criminalization of our communities and the failures of due process for people who come to seek asylum in the US,” Eduardo Garcia, of the human rights group SOA Watch, told EFE.
Under Operation Streamline, launched in 2005, some undocumented migrants apprehended at the border have to serve jail time before they are deported.
Before Streamline, unauthorized border-crossers were simply sent back to Mexico.
President Donald Trump’s administration announced recently that all undocumented migrants intercepted in the US Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector would be processed under the Operation Streamline protocol, regardless of whether they have criminal records or have been detained on previous attempts to enter the United States.
A particularly controversial aspect of the Streamline program is the sentencing of dozens of migrants at a stroke in mass hearings at the Tucson federal courthouse.
Friday’s demonstration was part of Border Encounter, an event organized by SOA Watch that is expected to bring more than 2,000 activists from the US, Mexico and Central America to this Arizona city.
Participants planned to protest Friday night outside the Eloy Detention Center, the scene of more detainee deaths than any other migrant holding facility in the country.
For the weekend, organizers have scheduled a “massive demonstration” in Nogales, Arizona, against Trump’s planned border wall.