Bruce G. MacDonald, Presiding
Observers: Alan Koch and one woman from Tucson Samaritans
There were 75 migrants taken through the court on this day. Cases against five migrants were dismissed without prejudice up front. Four of the cases were granted a continuance to be heard in mid-November (the continuance to allow for appropriate language interpreters).
Thirty-seven were charged only with first-time illegal entry (8 USC 1325) and were released for time served. Twenty-nine were charged with entering the United States illegally for a second or third time (8 USC 1326 and 8 USC 1325). Those 29 were sentenced to a total of 1,290 days (the cost of their imprisonment -- $210,270).
The magistrate did not identify where the migrants crossed the border, but instead said “entered southern Arizona from Mexico without permission and not through a Port of Entry.” The magistrate also did not identify their country of origin, but said, “not a citizen of the United States.”
In a few cases the migrants’ homeland was identified as part of an explanation of first language. Four migrants were from Guatemala and most often identified Mam as their first language. One migrant was from Honduras; one was from Mexico and Spanish was his second language.
At least four migrants showed confusion in answering the magistrate’s questions. After time aside with their attorneys each migrant was able to answer the questions, but even then, not easily.
In five cases migrants claimed “credible fear” and requested asylum. In one of those cases, Public Defender Hortencia Delgadillo, reported the young man had fled Guatemala because he and his wife could not pay the extortion money to prevent their two-year old son from being kidnapped.
I spoke with Attorney Delgadillo at length after court adjourned. She said, she makes an effort to get those seeking asylum to Eloy or Florence where they might be linked with people to help them build their cases for asylum. Delgadillo talked about her process of interviewing the migrants, whose cases she is assigned, and how she works to draw out their stories in the 20 minutes she has. She said she has been working in Operation Streamline since its inception.
After another attorney joined our conversation (did not get name), he mentioned that the chief judge overseeing Operation Streamline would like to pare down the amount of time taken for each defendant during the court session. I asked them both about their perceptions of the ramping up, adding US troops along the border and any impact they may anticipate. They mentioned tent cities and the intention to use razor wire at the border. Both shared a concern that the added military personnel, and presence of militia, may increase the potential for people getting hurt.