Archive for April, 2011

25
Apr
11

Observations on 3/17/11, Fr. Jim

R-4 Via TV from Tri-County Jail. IL D.O.B. 11-14-87. COUNTRY/ORIGIN: Mexico. TIME IN US: Since 2000. TIME IN DETENTION: ? LAWYER: Present in court. INTERPRETER: Not used. OUTCOME: Bond set for $3,000. ISSUES: R’s brother and brother’s wife were present in court. R’s lawyer requested a bond hearing. Judge began the bond hearing. Judge invited R’s brother to give testimony in R’s behalf. R’s brother entered in 12-06-83 and is a legal US resident. R’s parents are US residents. R has three US children, one born yesterday. Judge asked why R did not have a legal US resident card? R’s brother explained that R did not apply for legal residence until 3 years after his parents had applied. R and his brother have a business. A number of years ago, R’s brother walked into the business and found his parents and R badly beaten up. Later, R was arrested for driving without a license. ICE said that R has five driving arrests and pressed this issue. R’s car is now impounded. He can no longer drive it. R’s brother said that he has a driver’s license and will drive R to and from work – the brothers now have a new business. R was taken into custody by ICE in 2009. He was released on bond in 2009. R reported to ICE faithfully. R is in detention now for driving without a license and public intoxication. R’s brother said that R has memory problems due to a motorcycle accident (R was a passenger on the motorcycle). ICE pressed R on numerous driving without a license charges and reckless driving charges and on not reporting to state court. R said he was in ICE custody so he couldn’t report to the state court. R was also arrested in IN for Identity Theft in 1983 (R was born in 1987). Judge granted the request for a bond and set it at $3,000. ICE did not appeal. R’s case continued to April 14, 2011, which will change if R is able to post bond before April 14.

R-5 Via TV Tri County, IL, jail. D.O.B. 12-17-68. COUNTRY/ORIGIN: Mexico. TIME IN US: some 20 years. TIME IN DETENTION: ? LAWYER: NO. INTERPRETER: Used. OUTCOME: Continued and granted a bond for $1,500.

ISSUES: R’s wife was in court. Judge invited R’s wife to speak to him to encourage him to ask for bond hearing today. Wife told R that she had $1,600 in cash from R’s employer so he could get a bond. R’s wife also gave the judge a letter of testimony on R’s behalf from R’s employer. The bond hearing began. R’s wife is a US citizen. R has no children. R’s parents are dead. R has no siblings in the US. R is employed in construction. In 2010, R was apprehended by ICE and release on bond. R was arrested on DUI in Feb. 2011. R pleaded guilty and spent a month in prison. Judge questioned R on why the DUI when he was out on bond? Also, R had driven into a parked car. ICE asked R if this DUI was his only arrest. R said NO and then admitted numerous arrests for public intoxication, giving a false name, one domestic battery and one assault on a police officer. R then explained the domestic battery and assault of a police office for which he got 2 days in jail. Judge recalled R’s wife. They have been married 4 years. She has health problems and needs him. R has raised her grandson. There is an AA group nearby and she strongly supports him in dealing with his alcoholism. R has never abused her and she really needs him to help her with her health problems. Judge granted bond of $1,500. ICE will appeal the bond.

25
Apr
11

Observations, 4/18/11, Bobby Lawson

One case (out of 16 hearings) stood out for me of a man who has come to the U.S. from Mexico to find work to support his wife and two special needs children in Mexico. He had a DUI in 2008 but was not convicted and went through court supervision for drinking problem. He has been in the U.S. for 12 years and worked steady for 8 at the same job. The judge lowered his bond to $3000.00 and rescheduled his hearing to allow his lawyer more time in representing him. In only one case did the judge allow a detainee to have voluntary departure, although he did not reduce his bond because he was caught driving his car without a license. The judge felt he would still disrespect the law and continue this if released. The down-side of voluntary departure is that the detainee has to pay the cost. The up-side is that there is a better chance of being able to enter this country legally at a later date. If he was involuntarily removed (deported), there would be no opportunity for that (editor’s note, for at least 10 years.) Many detainees seemed to want voluntary departure. Perhaps this was one of the reasons.

Some impressions were driven home to me as I watched these proceedings. At least as far as this judge was concerned, there was a desire to find the possibility of relief from deportation, however, most of the detainees damaged their own cases because of a criminal record. Cases of domestic violence and aggravated battery would seem to warrant removal. And drug possession and DUI’s are serious as well. However, courts are designed to deal with the facts of what happened. They do not and are not able to address the “whys” of such cases. Why has a person developed an alcohol problem? Why did the person secure a false ID? Why did the person steal? … In some cases, as it is with U.S. citizens, I think the courts are limited in their response. It will take other institutions of society stepping up to address the circumstances that breed such decisons.

One final impression: I was able to talk with the judge informally after the court had adjourned for lunch. It was clear that he is a conscientious man who tries to treat detainees with respect. He wrestles with the information to try and make the best decision for all within the boundaries of the law. He tries to give family members an opportunity to speak for a few minutes to their loved ones when they are in court. This is somewhat awkward doing this through televideo in a court room where others are present but it is a kind and good gesture. Yet he has to move through some 120-150 or so cases a week. No one wants the detainees to be in limbo any longer than necessary, yet all deserve due process in their cases. He finds himself having to make very weighty decisions with huge consequences on peoples’ lives with very little information and in very little time.

25
Apr
11

Observations April 14, 2011, Katie Deibert

R-3, woman from Mexico, represented by counsel and used interpreter. R was going to attempt to seek a U-Visa but instead requested voluntary departure. R born 1973, entered the US in 1996, married with five children (ages 17, 13, 12, 11 and 8, all but the 17yo born in the US), works at a restaurant, has been in Bloomington for 15 years, mother-in-law and sister-in-law have status. R has several convictions for retail theft of food and clothing. Govt attorney expressed concern that with such strong ties, R is likely to attempt to re-enter the US. J recognized R’s close relationship with her children, long time in the community and the fact that her crimes were those of necessity and granted the voluntary departure.

This was extremely sad and frustrating to sit through. The judge came to the “best” decision by granting voluntary departure and not ordering R removed, but it was a powerful example of the deep flaws in the immigration system. R was very emotional when she spoke to the judge, and the thought of these children either growing up without their mother or having to move to a country foreign to them was heartbreaking. R was stealing food to feed her children, and this is the result? I don’t know what the family will do since the children who are citizens are ages 13 – 8, and they won’t be old enough to help their parents and oldest sibling gain status for a number of years. There is also the question of what happens to the 17yr old who was born in Mexico but has been in the US since age two. Again, very sad on so many levels and it affected me more than other cases I have seen in my visits.