Administration Should Focus On Proven Border Solutions

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Attorneys at the Department of Justice are busy researching ways they can sue Arizona over its new immigration law. The Washington Post reported that Justice Department lawyers have “been working around the clock” on a potential lawsuit. Presumably, those attorneys have at least read the law, unlike many other Obama administration officials who have not, but have nevertheless weighed in against it.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department, headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, continues to ignore a request Congress has made for information about how to expand Operation Streamline into other sectors of the border where the program hasn’t been fully implemented.

Operation Streamline is a program that targets illegal immigrants with immediate prosecution, including up to 60 days of jail time, rather than just releasing them.

The program has been fully implemented in Del Rio, Texas and Yuma, Ariz. sectors of the border, and has dramatically reduced the number of individuals illegally crossing the border in those sectors since its implementation in 2005.

In the Yuma Sector, apprehensions plummeted by 94 percent, from 118,530 in 2006 to just 6,954 in 2009. By comparison, in the Tucson Sector, where Operation Streamline has only limited implementation, apprehensions still hover at an alarming total of 241,673 in 2009.

Over half of all illegal immigration into the United States comes through the Tucson Sector of the border. Moreover, the sector remains a heavily traveled drug route. Nearly half of all marijuana seized along the Southwest border last year was seized in the Tucson Sector.

The facts are undeniable: Operation Streamline is a deterrent that works. Putting the program in place in other sectors would help control the flow of illegal immigrants, reduce drug and criminal activity, and help protect Americans.

That is why in January of 2009, I met with then-attorney general nominee Eric Holder (and later at his confirmation hearing) and asked him what resources were needed to expand Operation Streamline into additional areas of the country, including to the Tucson Sector. He assured me then he would review the program and provide me with that information at a later date. I also have requested this information from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in several oversight hearings, meetings, and follow-up phone conversations.

Since Attorney General Holder never provided the information about Operation Streamline, I included a measure in the 2010 DHS appropriations bill requiring DOJ and DHS to collaboratively produce a report to Congress on the resources needed to expand the program. DOJ and DHS are legally required to complete the report by December 2009. We’re almost mid-way through 2010, and Congress still has not received it.

I think all Americans would be better served if the Obama administration focused on implementing proven border security solutions, like Operation Streamline, rather than “working around the clock” to devise ways to sue states for passing legislation it disagrees with.

Sen. Jon Kyl is the Senate Republican Whip and serves on the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees. Visit his Web site at www.kyl.senate.gov or his YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/senjonkyl.

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