U.S. boosts deportation of illegals By Jerry Seper March 17, 2008 Illegals awaited prosecution last month in the Val Verde Correctional Facility in Del Rio, Texas. Law enforcement has implemented Operation Streamline in select regions along the U.S.-Mexico border, removing 280,523 persons in 2007, but the program needs funding, detention space and manpower. The Department of Homeland Security, continuing to enforce what it calls a "strict policy of arresting, prosecuting and jailing" illegal immigrants, deported a record number of those caught on the nation's borders last year — more than 280,000 in fiscal year 2007 compared with 186,000 a year earlier. It was the largest number of illegals ever removed from the country in a single year. The increase is attributable to what veteran law-enforcement authorities said is a revised apprehension process, adding that the department no longer is targeting only criminal illegals for removal, but seeks eventually to apprehend, charge and deport all those who cross illegally into the United States. To that end, Homeland Security has initiated "Operation Streamline" along some sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border, which brings illegal immigrants into the U.S. criminal justice system, where they are prosecuted either for a misdemeanor on their first offense or a felony if they have been caught before. "Under this program, individuals who are caught at certain designated high-traffic, high-risk zones are prosecuted and, if convicted, are jailed," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said at a recent press briefing. Mr. Chertoff noted that between October and December, the Justice Department prosecuted 1,200 cases under the new program and, as a consequence, apprehension rates dropped nearly 70 percent in those areas. "When people who cross the border illegally are brought to face the reality that they are committing a crime, even if it is just a misdemeanor, that has a huge impact on their willingness to try again and on the willingness of others to break the law coming across the border," he said. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Ernestine Fobbs said the agency's Office of Detention and Removal Operations deported to 195 countries a total of 280,523 illegal immigrants during fiscal 2007 — which ended Sept. 30.