Did Operation Streamline Slow Illegal Immigration?

Pia Orrenius, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Jesus Canas, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Christina Daly, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Migrant apprehensions along the Southwest border declined drastically between 2006 and 2010. The drop-off coincides with the U.S. housing bust and ensuing recession, which most experts suggest are the reason fewer migrants attempted to cross the border into the United States during this period. At the same time, however, DHS and DOJ launched an ambitious new enforcement policy dubbed Operation Streamline. Under Operation Streamline (OS), routine migration cases are put through the federal criminal court system, resulting in jail time for migrants. Seven Border Patrol sectors adopted OS between 2007 and 2010, while two sectors did not. This paper looks at whether, when controlling for the deteriorating economy, there is an additional negative effect of OS on the volume of migrant apprehensions. Preliminary findings suggest that while OS has had a small negative impact on migrant apprehensions, economic variables play a much bigger role.

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Presented in Poster Session 3