DeConcini Federal Court, a criminal, not immigration, court
Magistrate Lynnette Kimmins
U.S. Federal Prosecutor: Chris Lewis
Samaritans: Debra Mallory, Sara Busey
Visitors: Delegate from Holy Trinity Church, D.C. led by Julie of Kino Border Initiative
Magistrate Kimmins was extremely careful to probe the comprehension of any migrant that hesitated in responding or gave an inappropriate answer to her questions. She spoke clearly and directly to each migrant before her during the two and one half hour court session.(1:30-4:00)
The maximum capacity courtroom held 19 first time crossers and 56 re-entry migrants. All first timers were excused to return to their own country, Mexicans across the border and Central Americans to detention to await a full airplane to fly them to their home country. They left with a criminal misdemeanor on their record. If given prison time, they could have faced a maximum 6 months, a $5,000 fine with 14 days to appeal. None were.
Three requests were made for asylum:
After court, defense lawyer Daniel Anderson spoke with the D.C. folks.
“What happens to those today who asked for asylum?” was asked.
Lawyers have a form for them to sign and keep with them and, after they serve their prison time, give to Immigration to ask for an asylum interview. No one asking for asylum at a port of entry comes to O.S. Those who cross the border in between ports can be sent to O.S.
“Who is chosen to go to Operation Streamline?”
The border patrol mostly chooses those without prior criminal convictions. Others are sent to criminal court or back across the border.
“Who decides how much prison time is assigned?”
The federal prosecutor, who is an employee of the Border Patrol working as an assistant U.S. Attorney, decides. Length of prison time is based on past history—how many times a migrant crosses or has been to O.S. before, prior misdemeanor or felony convictions and Alien Transport. The latter is meant to impress migrants that a long bus ride, shackled, across the country to be deported into an unfamiliar Mexican town is a punishment not to be repeated. They have no choice of whether to go on this bus, but if they do and re-enter the US again, they pay with a longer prison term.
Those with prison sentences of 5-6 months, usually serve them out of state per bed availability.
“Where does O.S. get translators?”
Translators based in California do video language interviews.
Daniel said The 9th Circuit looked at O.S. 4 times and found it legal. “It’s legal, just not fair.”
~ Sara Busey