DeConcini Federal Court, a criminal, not immigration, court (1:30-2:50)
Magistrate: Eric Markovich
U.S. Federal Prosecutor: Lewis
Samaritans: Helen Nissani, Sara Busey
Visitors: Julie McPherson & Ben Jennings trained by No More Deaths
Of the 75 defendants, 22 were 1st time crossers, 53 re-entries. Two were excused for lack of interpreters to return to their countries. Luis Miguel Lucas-Martinez (18-24129M) refused a plea agreement and was re-scheduled for a later appearance before Markovich. One was dismissed by Mr. Lewis because he was not 18. One seemed very confused, not unusual since he had been 9 days wandering in the desert before being apprehended.
Four were caught using fake ID papers at a port of entry, all 1st time crossers. The majority crossed near Sasabe.
All together, the 52 sentenced defendants will spend 3570 days in mostly private prisons at a cost to you and me of $574,770.
Asylum: Cesar Alexander Torres-Sandres (18-24212MP), a 1st time crosser, expressed a “credible fear” of returning to Honduras. His lawyer Grace Goodman requested this be put on the record and the magistrate instructed Cesar to tell Immigration when he was released from OS (before ICE deported him.) Ms. Goodman told me she had not given him a paper “because they would take it away from him.” But she told him not to sign anything and to ask for a credible fear interview with Immigration. She didn’t notify ICE. Cesar had a debt in Honduras, the gang came for it, shot his brother in the head, fired at him, trying to get him to join their gang.
Ms Goodman said she doubted his asylum claim would be accepted because he would need to prove collusion between the gang and the Honduran government to show political persecution.
At the end of court session, Lawyer Kevin Lerch told the magistrate Miguel Ortega-Najera (18-24213M) asked for asylum, but I could not catch him to find out more.
Alien Transfer Exit Program (ATEP) Before court began, lawyer Daniel Anderson explained to us how ATEP works. After release from prison or OS, migrants to be deported are sent by plane or bus to a location other than where they had entered the US. ICE says it is to break the connection between them and the coyote or cartel in Mexico. It is part of the Consequence Delivery Program. BP says the trip is voluntary, but Anderson says it isn’t.
However, the migrants land in a strange town without ID, belongings, medicine, etc. or friends.
If they re-enter the US in the future, these migrants “pay” for their bus trip. Thirty days are added to their sentence. For example, a 30 day sentence becomes 60 days, a 75 sentence, 105 days. Anderson said this ATEP is very common. A quick look at sentences today indicates as many as 10+ may have had 30 days added.