Saturday, May 25, 2019

If I can just get past that border line…

Photo by Adriana Heldiz via Voice of San Diego

Guest post by Cassidy Carlen, rising 3L at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University

It’s 9:00 am. Paper pages turning, chatter amongst attorneys and shuffling footsteps fill Courtroom 2A of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The door to chambers opens and the room falls silent. The powerful man in the black robe enters, queuing every person in the room to stand in unison, only relieved by the phrase “You may be seated.” Another door in the far corner of the wooden room is pushed open, a guard leads the way for a single file line of stone faced men in green jump suits. As they pile into the courtroom, its hard not to analyze each face and wonder “what exactly brought you here?” This inquiry answered as we move down the docket. The desperate need to support your paralyzed father. Your wife who is a citizen raising your children all alone in a foreign place. No matter the reason, the land of opportunity is pulling you in, offering you opportunity like the “bright blinking lights of a Las Vegas billboard.”

Time moves in slow motion while the cases are called like an assembly line, the next compared to the last. “The government recommends 90 days your honor… 60 days… 30 days.” “Your honor my client came here for a better life.” “To support his 5 children and work in the fields of Oregon picking wheat.” “He has a 6th grade education, and cannot read or write.” “He will not return again.” The judge softly responds to each argument “I am sympathetic, I thank you for your comments,” followed by a statement about deterrence and respect for the law.

The question is constantly asked “why not do it the ‘right way’?” Courtroom 2A taught me that many do… wait… receive a pardon… and if lucky eventually granted the gift to spend their life on American soil. But then, a mistake of the justice system rips this from their hands. Hope is lost and I can’t blame them from wondering “If I can just get past that border line…”

- posted by KitJ on behalf of Cassidy Carlen

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