DeConcini Federal Court, a criminal, not immigration, court (1:30-3:30)
Magistrate: Jacqueline Rateau
U.S. Federal Prosecutor: Lewis
Samaritans: Jean Saballus, Dallas Yuhas* Carol Dixon, Carol Wood, Kathy Samoon, Rita Danks, Susan Dyer, Sara Busey
Visitors: Group from Georgia led by Lois Martin of No More Deaths
Of the 75 defendants, 6 were first time crossers who pled guilty and were deported with criminal records. Of 5 at beginning of court, two were dismissed, probably due to the court’s lack of interpreters, and 3 had their cases continued.
Six defendants were charged with attempted entry when they appeared at a port of entry, probably Nogales, with false documents. This number has increased lately.
Asylum: Jose Ulises Urbina-Flores (18-23525M) from Al Salvador expressed a credible fear of returning to his country. Lawyer Jessica Ruiz said she will send him a Florence packet in Spanish to help guide him through the Asylum hearing. No other papers were given to him.
Refused Plea Bargain: Jesus Antonio Andrade-Gomez (18-23513M) from Guatemala refused to sign a plea agreement and the magistrate dismissed his misdemeanor charge and rescheduled his case for trial later on the felony, which carries a minimum sentence of 2 years in prison. Almost no one successfully defends his case even though his lawyer appears with him.
The 62 migrants sentenced will spend a total of 4200 days in mostly private prisons at a cost to US taxpayers of $676,200. Add to that the daily cost of $1215 for15 lawyers at $135/hr for 6 hours. Additional costs includes salaries for the magistrate, prosecutor, 2 interpreters, Clerk of Court, 3 Border Patrol agents, 3 Marshalls and heating or air conditioning every day, 5 days a week, 50 weeks a year. Tucson is only one of three Operation Streamlines whose costs also add up to an expensive policy meant to use punishment to deter future migrants from crossing. It isn’t working.
*Dallas Yuhas shared her stories with our group of being an ESL teacher in Omaha, Nebraska, where many Mam speakers have located to work in the meat packing plants. Most are asylum seekers. Dallas helps them meet their scheduled meetings with Immigration and fill out papers to designate responsibility for their American children, their bills, their homes and other possessions in the awful case that they are picked up by ICE or lose their case in court and are deported. It is a sad that our country deliberately tears mothers and fathers away from their children. And that we lose the skills, work ethic and family values of those who are fleeing violence in their home country.