Tucson Federal Court with Judge D. Thomas Ferraro
There were 37 names of detainees on the list printed from the OS schedule on the courthouse website. There were 4 women, 7 people from Guatemala and 1 from Honduras.
There were two other observers, one a friend of mine.
Judge Ferraro explained carefully how the plea bargain works. Each will be charged with a felony (illegal re-entry) and a misdemeanor (crossing outside a border entry point). If a person pleas, the felony and fines will be dropped and only the conviction for the misdemeanor will remain. The person will be jailed for a time (30 to 180 days) that is mandated and not within the judge’s power to adjust. After serving the sentence the person will be deported. Having the conviction and deportation on record will have an effect on any future convictions and on the ability of a person to obtain legal status in the USA. The detainee may ask for a separate trial in front of a judge. S/he will be provided with a lawyer and set up for an initial appearance (no bail—this option may result in much more time in jail as there is a backlog and it is difficult to get witnesses, necessary paperwork, etc).
Judge Ferraro called 7 people at a time. Most had been picked up in the last few days—16 near Sasabe, 3 Naco, 4 Douglas, 10 Nogales, 1 each in Hereford and Lukeville. Two, I believe, were dismissed before the proceedings started.
The judge asked each if they had been promised something or pressured and asked all at the end of each group if anyone had anything to say. Two people (not together) spoke up and apologized for entering illegally. The man apologized to the flag and the citizens of the USA, the woman said she wouldn’t do it again. I had not heard this before.
The total days of incarceration were 2070. At $140 per day that comes to $289,800. 16 lawyers at $125 an hour for 6 hours is $12,000. In addition there are border patrol, a government lawyer, 2 interpreters, the bailiff, the court recorder, the Judge and probably others. All this is for one of the five days weekly when the court meets in Tucson.