Magistrate Judge Bernardo Velasco, 13 lawyers, Christopher Lewis for the Feds
Observers included 2 Samaritans and a group of about 11 high school students and counselors from Loyola High School, just outside Chicago.
53 defendants were on the list including 3 women. 24 were only charged with 1325 and 29 with 1325 and the felony of re-entry (1326). People were picked up near Sasabe, Nogales, Douglas, Lukeville and Naco. Most migrants were Mexican but there were a few from Guatemala and Honduras.
This was a different hearing today because it was the first day without shackles. This was complying with a ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of appeals. Later we found out that the prisoners had been given the option of going to court in shackles (wrists, ankles and waist) or without. They were kept in the side room (presumably in shackles as they had arrived on the corrections buses) and were shown into the court room with their hands clasped behind their backs, one group at a time with perhaps 5 minutes between groups. The first group which was already seated when we entered, were 12 men who had chosen to be shackled. As they were self-selected they were not in the order of the list and I got confused trying to locate their names. Those in the 1325 group were given ‘time served’ and those charged with a felony and a misdemeanor were given the regular 30-180 days incarceration. After the first group, the men and the 3 women were brought into the courtroom 5-7 at a time and went to stand directly in front of the bench. Judge Velasco holds the Operation Streamline speed record AND he mumbles so I did not hear the few discussions between Judge V. and the lawyers.
Javier Arreola Martinez—25123MP—was in a wheel chair.
Lia Guadalupe and Levi—25129MP and 25130MP are Mexican brother and sister.
Florencio Santana Sotelo--25128M had difficulty walking into the courtroom and asked to be seated during the procedure. I believe he had spent a few days in the desert.
Juliana Ore-Giron, lawyer for Renerio Gonzalez De La Cruz--25139M spoke to the judge for a while but I could not hear.
A couple of language concerns were noted for defendants whose first language was not Spanish, but they were deemed to know enough Spanish to understand the proceedings.
Altogether the defendants were sentenced 2,325 days which is almost 6.5 years—most likely in a private prison.
Following the court proceedings Magistrate Bernardo Velasco spoke with the courtroom visitors and answered their questions. Among his many comments, he said the cost of the court proceedings is small in the U.S. budget, and not a good argument against Operation Streamline. The better argument against Operation Streamline is a lack of an immigration policy in the United States and the “human” cost to these defendants whose families suffer while they are imprisoned. Velasco spoke of an American desire to have access to “cheap” labor, but also wanting at the same time strict border enforcement. He also spoke about making a difference in this “system" with the people we elect to office. Related, he criticized gerrymandering. Velasco also cited Americans’ huge interest and use of illicit and presecription drugs, which has created a large market.