Archive for October, 2009

14
Oct
09

Sudha’s third reflection

Sudhamayee Kumar
October 7th,2009
Another day has gone by, and no judges are present in the court room. This is quite surprising since I have been to court watch twice now, both times with no judges present. The lack of judges in our nation’s judicial system does not give respondents a fair trail. Placed on the platform for the brown line el train is an ad for Hyatt hotels which states “being face to face helps people see eye to eye”. This sentiment can be applied to our nation’s immigration court system. Lack of judges poses a huge disadvantage for respondents and their families. A proper trial is technically conducted, but it lacks the human element. The proceedings are almost robotic in nature, with respondents and state officials speaking into mics and facing a judge who is broadcasted via satellite.
If only judges could properly see the ways in which detainees suffer, maybe they would be filled with a little more compassion. But there is no room for emotions in the judicial system, and these cases are judged based on very stringent immigration laws which do not take into account things such as marriage.
The case which I witnessed on this day had this very problem. The respondent, Ricardo of Mexico was put into a detention facility approximately one year ago. Since then, his girlfriend and himself have gotten married (though he was still being held in detention). His wife is a citizen of the United States, and they have been together for over 5 years, yet the Judge bases his case on his status before he was detained. In her final efforts to relieve her husband of the stress of being detained, his wife pleads with the judge to just send Ricardo back to Mexico. She cannot stand the thought of her husband being subjected to the horrors of daily life in the detention center any longer, she states. The judge agrees, and the case is closed (or so I had understood).

Advertisements
14
Oct
09

Sudha’s Second Reflection

Sudhamayee Kumar
Court Watch
October 2nd, 2009

Volunteers clad in orange wave flags in high spirits for our city’s bid for the Olympics. The crowd, a mass of people from various age groups, races, and ethnicities show the strength of America. They are an exemplary group, America’s children, of what our nation stands for. Freedom, unity, egalitarianism, and most importantly, hope. Yet my morning was not started of with seeing this group of people clad in orange, but another. Men with sadness in their eyes are marched out of a narrow hallway into a poorly lit court room within the basement of Chicago’s immigration building. The respondents don bright orange jumpsuits marking them as a threat to our nation, the nation in which they have been working and living for the past decade or more. The judge, who is communicating via satellite TV, states his name and his location. In this case, the judge is in Hartford, Connecticut. This lack of human interaction is startling, and does not foster a true understanding between the judge and the respondent. Mario has been held without bond for the past 2 months. During the proceedings, Mario’s lawyer applies for bond, and another hearing is set. We are informed that the reason Mario has not been eligible for bond thus far, is because of two disorderly conduct charges, which are still pending. It seems to be an endless cycle of depression for the respondent and his family. Those in his family who were present seem to be confused on the exact actions which are being taken against him. The translator hurries to keep up with the judge’s words, yet does not seem to convey the whole message to the respondent. Finally Mario’s case is scheduled for a another hearing within 2 months.
The reality of the situation is that Mario will be detained for an additional 2 months, for lack of organization within our nation’s justice system. After that is through, his lack of legal documentation will be questioned, after which he will probably be deported back to Mexico. This stands in stark contrast to what has been taught to us throughout our schooling, and what is portrayed in our nation’s media. A country of equality, and “justice for all” seems to be a fairy tale when one witnesses our fellow countrymen’s lives being torn apart in this manner.

14
Oct
09

Sudha’s First Reflections

Sudhamayee Kumar
Court watch-Day 1 9/21/09
It was a crowded day at the Chicago Immigration court. Flocks of freshly naturalized citizens emerged from the glass doors of the bright building. This is the pretty side of immigration, the side which the media portrays to the poorly informed public. The dark side lies within this building’s basement. Here undocumented immigrants have their Hearings, after spending from one to many months in detention facilities throughout the Chicago-land area. Most are deported to their nations of origin, and their lives are left broken. Fragments of their lives are left behind, in the form of family members, and a few of their stories are told and heard. The struggle of immigrants who lack proper paper work is something which can easily be overlooked if one forgets that these people are human beings with feelings and families.
During my first visit to the court watch, I observed the case of a respondent who had previously been presented in court twice and this third time the critical “Notice to Appear” was still not present. This notice states the charges against the respondent. Such discrepancies within our judicial system lead to respondents being detained for months on end. This type of detention leads to depression within the individual and his or her family members.

14
Oct
09

Maggie Novotny’s Reflection

Court Watch Observations and Reflections 9/11/09 9:00am-12pm

1. The two respondents that I observed were from Italy and Mexico.

2. Other than technicalities in hearing one another, there did not seem to be problems with the video-conferencing. The Judge was actually on the video from Virginia, while the respondents were present in the courtroom. Both had attorneys and were there for merit hearings.

3. The first respondent from Italy had about eight family members in the courtroom. Her younger child would smile and wave, while the respondent would silently respond. At the end of the hearing, the respondent was given a cancellation of deportation. She asked to see her family, tearfully. They went to a meeting room to be with the respondent.

4. Following the woman from Italy’s hearing, the Judge was unable to determine when the respondent would leave jail. The judge claimed this was not under her jurisdiction and that the attorneys would have to agree on when they would release her, or the respondent’s attorney would have to complete paperwork for her release. It seemed to unnecessarily lengthen the respondent’s detention time when she already received relief of deportation.

5. Both respondents were granted cancellation of deportation on the grounds that if they were to commit another crime, they would be immediately deported.

6. The judge did treat the respondents well, taking into consideration their responsibilities, family and length of time in the United States. Both were immigrants with green cards, and proved that they would lead a better life in the future.

7. This was my first time visiting the deportation court. It was an interesting process given the video conferencing as well as the quickness in which decisions are made.