Operation Streamline(OS) News
May 4, 2016
Magistrate Bernardo Velasco
Federal Prosecutor Lewis
Samaritans: Sara Busey, Barb Lemmon, John Hemann, Katrina Schmacher
Visitors: U. of A. class in Population Geography
Of 66 migrants today, 6 were excused due to inability to understand English or Spanish and returned to their home countries. The remaining 60 were sentenced within 35 minutes to 3390 days in prison at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of $545,740. Each migrant had, at most, 30 seconds before Magistrate Velasco.
Criminal Justice Attorney Juliana Ore-Giron told Velasco two of her clients had expressed “credible fear” of being returned to their country:
Benjamin Diaz-Figueroa ((16-24298M) Guatemala
Alonzo Ramirez (16-24328M) Mexico
Seven migrants were from Guatemala, three from Honduras and the rest from Mexico. One requested an opportunity to speak with his wife before he left the courtroom and another’s lawyer verified that he was 18 years old.
After court, Magistrate Velasco spoke with the U.of A. students:
“Credible fear means nothing here. After OS and prison term migrants may apply for asylum. But it is very hard to prove because the US has diplomatic ties with all Central and South American countries and those pleading arrive without documents or witnesses.”
“Migrants are shackled because there are so many of them.”
“After serving their sentence, migrants from Central and South America are held until a plane load is full and flown south, stopping at Mexico City. Anyone can get off there.”
“Everyone at OS is getting less time than their record warrants. Felony is the #1 prosecution in the district.”
“Immigration reform lacks political will. One thing to admit is that we like cheap labor.”
“Is OS effective? No.”
Attorney Richard Bacal added that OS is no less effective than other systems and perhaps more so.
Both Velasco and Bacal stressed that although both misdemeanor and felony are criminal convictions, a felony on ones record is more serious if migrants return again to the US and warrants more prison time. By pleading guilty to a misdemeanor in OS, which everyone did today, the government waved the felony charge.