Magistrate: Bruce MacDonald
Federal Prosecutor: Ms. James
No Border Patrol
13 CJA Lawyers
2 Public Defenders
Samaritans Attending: Sara Busey
Visitors: A group of rabbis from around the US with a Kino Border Initiative guide; Caitlin Camper, a college student from Arkansas
MacDonald instructed the lawyers that all detention location and immigration requests were on the record and need not be repeated during court.
Two-thirds of the 75 migrants were first-time crossers. Ten were dismissed without prejudice at the beginning, probably due to a lack of interpreters for their indigenous languages. One was dismissed during proceedings when it became apparent he could not comprehend MacDonald’s questions. Another three had their cases continued. Those three asked for asylum, but I didn’t catch their names except for one:
Orain John Ross Douglas (18-38924M), who is from Jamaica and speaks English. His lawyer Kevin Lerch said he had asked for asylum when first stopped by Border Patrol. No papers evident. Re-entry.
First-time Crossers Asylum Requests: Maria Transito Mayancela-Aguayxa (18-38887MP), lawyer Ruben Teran and Juan Rafael Chavarria-Palma (18-38970MP), lawyer Kevin Lerch. No papers evident.
Attorney Ruben Teran challenged the contention by Prosecutor James that his client Benito Reynoso-Aguilar, a first time crosser, had entered the US before, saying that it was a different migrant. Both the prosecutor and MacDonald said they had papers to prove it was Benito. James asked that he spend 15 days in prison, but MacDonald sentenced him instead to 10.
All re-entry plea bargain migrants will spend a total of 1485 days in mostly private prisons.
Magistrate MacDonald talked with the rabbis after court. One rabbi had protested Operation Streamline in San Diego before coming to Arizona and was quite agitated. Others had excellent questions, which MacDonald tried to answer thoughtfully.
“My greatest fear is that they don’t understand and are only parroting answers.” “I realize the optics of 75 migrants in shackles is bad, but I try to give them dignity by addressing them directly.” “Prisoners are shackled in all courtrooms when more than 1 is present.” “Justice is an administrator of the law; we don’t make it. I encourage you to run for office if you don’t like it.” “Many of the “first-time crossers” in OS crossed before, but weren’t prosecuted then.”
I brought up the “request for asylum” paper and how it would help those with limited Spanish ask ICE for asylum when they are released from prison/detention. MacDonald said, “That paper is in Spanish,” implying that it wasn’t helpful since the migrant couldn’t read it. He said both the Mexican and Guatemalan consuls meet with those from their country at noon and he would hope they would explain the asylum process. He didn’t say how those from El Salvador and Honduras might be enlightened or how a Qeqchi speaker would communicate to ICE his asylum request.
- Sara Busey