Magistrate Leslie Bowman
Samaritans: Sara Busey, Mary Ellen Eldowney
Visitors: Nathan Watts leading La Salle High School students from Portland, OR
“The justice system is not always fair,” said Magistrate Bowman when she spoke to high school students after court. “ At OS, the federal prosecutor can use discretion when applying the law.
Responding to excellent questions from the students who had been on a border immersion trip to our area, Bowman explained she understood their concern at seeing the mass trial at Operation Streamline (OS). She, too, experienced that on her first day as magistrate and only sees 5, not 8, at a time before her so she can look at each one personally.
When asked about “credible fear,” the legal standard for those seeking asylum, Bowman said “sometimes:” lawyers put a note to that effect in the migrant’s file. All must finish their prison sentences before asking for asylum when they are handed over to immigration. (ICE) No one going through OS will need to wait additional months to see an immigration judge as they have already seen one their first time crossing. All OS “alumni” are shipped directly to their home country.
What determines how many days each migrant must spend in prison?
Criminal Justice Attorney Mark Willimann told Mary Ellen that the seriousness of past U.S. convictions (assault vs. fender bender), the number of times crossed, the various border sites entered, and whether the U.S. paid for a past deportation to a port other than the area used to enter. No foreign convictions are considered. No drug runners nor those trafficking individuals go through Streamline. They face 2-20 years in other courts.
Today 47 migrants faced the magistrate in chains. Four were excused for lack of interpreters. Together, the remaining face 2940 days in prison at a cost to U.S. taxpayers of $473,340.
Again, no migrants spoke in court. All pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor of not entering at a port of entry. In return, the U.S. excused the felony of re-entry. All leave OS with a criminal record. One lawyer raised concerns about her client whose first language wasn’t Spanish, but felt he understood enough to continue. Attorney Diana Castillo-Reina said Ulises Romero-Martinez (16-29626M) had medical issues.