The Department of Justice has been silent about whether it barred federal prosecutors from prosecuting illegal immigrants in Arizona who have been detained crossing the border for the first time.
According to the Associated Press, “Public affairs officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Justice Department and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection have all refused to answer questions about whether the program has been scaled back,” only allowing prosecutors to go after illegal immigrants detained while committing serious crimes or endangering the public. The Associated Press noted that the Department of Justice has not given Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R-AZ) office a response, either.
But Brett Worsencroft, who is the “president of the Border Patrol union for Yuma Sector border agents,” confirmed Yuma County Sheriff Leon Wilmot’s account that Operation Streamline, the zero-tolerance program for illegal immigrants in question, has ended.
As Breitbart News reported, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) wrote letters to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding a response after Wilmot informed them of the program’s cessation. Gosar wrote Holder at the end of August expressing his displeasure about the changes by executive fiat that he said undermines U.S. national security and the safety of American citizens. McCain and Flake said the crisis at the border involving illegal immigrant juveniles from Central America makes it “an inopportune time to potentially be removing tools from the border security toolbox.” McCain has since warned that ISIS terrorists could cross America’s “porous” border to do harm.
Breitbart News previously reported that Arizona lawmakers told Holder that Wilmot “related that they had been informed that the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona will cease prosecuting those apprehended crossing the border illegally for the first time” and “suggested that only those undocumented aliens with adverse immigration histories or criminal convictions, as well as those apprehended while involved with criminal activity or presenting a danger to the public, will be prosecuted.”
In a letter to Gosar, Wilmot said that though the “new guidance gives a strong impression that its sole purpose is to direct the UDA [undocumented aliens] traffic and their criminal activity back to Yuma County,” the change “undermines everything that we have worked hard to achieve over the years for the citizens of Yuma County.”
Wilmot stated that “at one time, Yuma County had the worst record in the United States for illegal entries by UDAs,” and the “community suffered numerous ancillary crimes.” He then asserted that since the implementation of Operation Streamline in December 2006, Yuma County “has attained a reputation of ‘zero tolerance’ enforcement for UDAs and their criminal activities.”
Citing “an interview of a defendant from a recent smuggling case,” Wilmot declared that the subject “told investigators that since he has been in jail, he has talked with several other inmates,” and “he informed the investigators that the inmates were talking about how hard we (Yuma Sector) have been coming down on alien smuggling in our area.” Wilmot wrote, “He stated that they and their partners are moving to other areas due to our hard stance on smuggling and the fact that if you are caught in Yuma, you will go to jail.”
Rep. Gosar, meanwhile, blasted Holder’s “dereliction” for completely undermining America’s “‘zero tolerance’ policy established through Operation Streamline and flies in the face of years of work conducted by federal, state, and local law enforcement to secure our communities and our borders.”
“The Administration acts to circumvent the law, Congress makes legitimate Congressional inquiries, and … silence. Nothing. Zilch,” Gosar added. “I am sick and tired of this Administration–which promised to be the most transparent in history–constantly seeking to tilt the scales on our age-old systems of checks and balances. I will not stand for it, and I will continue to seek the answers the people deserve.”