April 10, 2016
Magistrate Bruce MacDonald
Federal Prosecutor Eric McNeils
Samaritans Attending: Treasure Omdahl, Alan Koch, Vicki Olson, Sara Busey
Others: Lois Martin (No More Deaths), Ariel Moses, internal medicine student focusing on world health and wife who have been staying at the Bird No More Deaths camp near Arivaca.
Operation Streamline court returned to usual after last week’s “rearrangement of chairs on the Titanic,” an experiment by Magistrate Markovich that increased the length of proceedings, allowed lawyers more time away from court, but did nothing to improve justice for the migrants. Today before court, the clerk called all lawyers to be sure all 15 were present and then Magistrate MacDonald called them all before him to urge them to speak up at any time if they had questions or comments.
As court began, MacDonald called 5 at a time to come forward with their lawyers. Each was charged with the felony of re-entering the U.S. and misdemeanor of entering without proper documents. All pleaded guilty to entering illegally and the government waved the felony charge, but it still left them with a criminal record. Two were excused, one a women. One migrant was from Peru having trekked a long distance to the U.S. Eight came from Guatemala, 4 from Honduras, 1 from Nicaragua and the rest from Mexico. Ariel mentioned that Central and South Americans are ill treated by Mexican police along their route north.
Next, Magistrate MacDonald described their rights to the 54 migrants. He then asked them to stand if they didn’t understand what he had just described. Four stood up! I had never seen that before. When he asked those to stand who hadn’t understood what his lawyer had discussed with him earlier that morning, three different migrants stood! This display of initiative (courage) is unusual at OS. Chained at hands and feet, with shoelaces and belts taken, it is hard to maintain dignity let alone take initiative when tugging up one’s pants with chained hands.
After their lawyers talked with those standing, each seemed satisfied (resigned) and sat down.
Today’s migrants will spend a total of 3990 days in prison at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of $642,390. As Criminal Justice Attorney Delgadillo told us 2 weeks ago, “Tell your Congressmen that Operation Streamline is a waste of money!”