Mayor of Nogales Arturo Garino slammed a program aimed at prosecuting undocumented immigrants during an appearance on HuffPost Live this week.
Inaugurated in 2005, Operation Streamline prosecutes immigrants who cross illegally with a criminal offense rather than a civil one. Under the program, courts hear dozens of illegal entry cases at a time. The vast majority of offenders plead guilty to the offense, which carries a six-month maximum prison sentence.
“It really doesn’t make our job easier,” Garino said on an appearance on HuffPost Live. “Sounds more like Operation Roundup… To incarcerate someone for trying to find a way of life is unbelievable.”
Supporters of Operation Streamline argue that the initiative acts as a deterrent, though an NPR series published in 2010 found little evidence to support the claim.
Garino went on to call for the state of Arizona and the federal government to focus more on boosting trade with Mexico than ramping up border enforcement:
They don’t seem to understand that maybe some of that money could be brought here for our infrastructure, for the future of trade with Mexico. We have to have positive trade with Mexico, we have to have positive relations with Mexico. We can’t just be ignoring all these opportunities for Arizona.
Watch the full segment on Operation Streamline in the video above.