DeConcini Federal Court, a criminal, not immigration, court (1:30-4:20)
Magistrate Eric Markovich
U.S. Federal Prosecutor: Chris Lewis
Samaritans: Sara Busey, Mary Ellen McEltowney, Sandra Anderson (Tucson Samaritan)
Visitors: Small delegation of students from Union College, Schenectady, NY, led by Spanish teacher Victoria Martinez.
In an unusual occurrence, Christian Corona-Acosta (17-30966M) with lawyer Daniel Anderson refused the plea bargain and will face the magistrate in several weeks to defend his comment that, “...it was my brother’s fault….” If unsuccessful, he will face a minimum of 2 years in prison on the felony count. Another migrant initially refused to sign, but changed his mind.
Of the 75 defendants, only 2 were first time crossers. One was an older man with only a 2nd grade education who had a great deal of difficulty understanding the magistrate. He, along with Diana Guadalupe Lopez, was given time served and sent back to his home country with a criminal misdemeanor on his record. This was in spite of the man presenting false documents at the Douglas port of entry. Marcelina De Jesus Saavedra also had presented false documents at a port and will serve 30 days as a re-entry migrant. (There seems to be an effort to charge low level offenders with entry/re-entry rather than with the more serious charge of using false documents.)
Many had difficulty understanding Markovich’s questions. He tends to use too many words even while separating each question when migrants seem confused. Lawyer Jessica Ruiz asked if her migrant could listen to the other defendants before being asked his questions so he would know how to respond! (A clear example that migrants are only parroting answers without understanding the question.)
Roque Alluso-Perez (17-30998M) with Public Defender lawyer Mokos expressed a need for medical attention. Markovich said, “We will see that the prison knows you need to see a doctor.”
Luis Felipe Cruz-Ramirez (17-31058M) asked repeatedly why others received fewer days in prison than he. Markovich offered to delay his hearing a week for him to discuss this with his lawyer Joel Parris, who had already asked the Federal Prosecutor Lewis if an adjustment could be made to no avail. Suddenly, Luis changed his plea to guilty.
A large number were caught near Sasabe, with several being out in the desert over a week. Many more women than usual. All together the migrants will serve 4545 days in mostly private prisons for a cost to US taxpayers of $731,745.