Tim Gaynor, Reuters, Jan. 13, 2006
EAGLE PASS, Texas — A pilot program that jails all illegal immigrants crossing into this Texas border town from Mexico has led to a dramatic fall in numbers attempting the journey, the U.S. Office of Border Patrol said on Friday.
A program known as Operation Streamline II, instituted on December 12, is aimed mostly at non-Mexican illegal immigrants who were arrested and released because Border Patrol agents did not have sufficient space to jail them.
“The message is one of zero tolerance to all illegal immigrants, whether they are Mexican or (non-Mexican) nationals,” said Hilario Leal, the U.S. Border Patrol’s spokesman for the sector that includes Eagle Pass.
“It appears to be getting out by word-of-mouth and through the media south of the border, as the numbers attempting to cross has fallen dramatically.”
Since the pilot program began around Eagle Pass, 140 miles west of San Antonio, the number of undocumented immigrants picked up by Border Patrol agents has dwindled to 10 a day, down from highs of around 150 a day in mid-2005, officials said.