In a February 11, 2014 New York Times article by Fernanda Santos titled “Detainees Sentenced in Seconds in ‘Streamline’ Justice on Border,” Magistrate Judge Bernardo P. Velasco of Federal District Court claimed, “My record is 30 minutes,” describing the time it took him to sentence 70 migrants caught crossing the U.S. border—that’s 25 seconds each to hear the charges against them, enter a plea and be sentenced.
According to the article,
“Men and women arrested along the border, the chains around their ankles and wrists jingling as they move, are gathered to answer to the same charges—illegal entry, a misdemeanor, and illegal re-entry, a felony. They have not had an opportunity to bathe since they set off to cross the desert; the courtroom has the smell of sweaty clothes left for days in a plastic bag. Side by side in groups of seven as they face the bench, they consistently plead guilty to a lesser charge, which spares them longer time behind bars. The immigration charge is often their only offense.”
Obama holds the presidential record with over 1.9 million deportations under his belt so far.
According to the article,
“Sentences range from 30 days to six months and are served in federal prisons, county jails and private detention centers that operate under contract with the government. Keeping the migrants from their families and the possibility of jobs to sustain them is one part penalty, one part incentive for them not to try to come back. (An illegal re-entry conviction carries a maximum of two years in prison, but it can be up to 20 years if the migrant has been deported before and has an aggravated-felony conviction.)”
“Defense lawyers” (I put these words in quotes because 25 seconds of legal representation in court is not a defense) are paid $110.00 per hour to represent migrant workers, seven at a time, in these “Streamline” mass trials. (The word “streamline” in the last sentence should really read, “Railroaded.”)
This is a classic example of, as Malcolm X put it, “turning the victim into the criminal and the criminal into the victim.” People driven by poverty looking for work where they can find it is not a crime.
How hypocritical is this president and this government? The long-term unemployed mired in poverty in this country are accused of being lazy and not looking for work hard enough, while those desperately risking their lives, crossing the border in rugged and dangerous terrain to work at the most difficult and lowest paying jobs, are also called criminals. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t!
The demand for unconditional amnesty for all and an increase in the minimum wage to at least $15.00-per-hour starting immediately go hand in hand and should be a rallying cry of the entire labor movement.
Poverty is a crime of capitalism not of the poverty-stricken!