Sicario

Sicario ★★★★

All Films Watched in 2020, Ranked / Villeneuve, Ranked

SICARIO 080420 on Vudu:

"every night you have families killed. and yet, here you dine. tonight should be no different."
"do you think the people that sent you here are any different? who do you think we learned it from?"

i went to school in Tucson, maybe forty-five minutes from the border. i took a law class focused on sex, race, drugs, and power issues in SCOTUS cases. we examined different cases and how rhetoric, argument, moral, political, ethical concerns factor into deciding fundamental social questions.

we attended a few trials in person. one of those was at the federal district courthouse in downtown Tucson, within walking distance of where i was living at the time. it was to observe an initiative within the federal district court system cooked up to address perceived issues with illegal immigration in the area. the initiative, still running, is called Operation Streamline.

Operation Streamline is a joint initiative of the DHS and DOJ. it represents a zero-tolerance approach where border crossings are treated as criminal acts. it's called Operation Streamline because the federal government has decided they need to speed up the process to criminally prosecute. at times, up to 70 people are tried at once. when i was observing, there were about 50 individuals being prosecuted in the courtroom. total prosecutions for first time offenders under Operation Streamline's guidelines hit a record high of 97,000 in 2013. 

we spoke with the magistrate judge prior to the proceeding, and were informed that all defendants would be pleading guilty under the same procedure and the same circumstances. all 50 were led into the courtroom, shackled. they came from different countries, some from Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras. many were provided with headphones for a translation of what the judge was saying. i was confused because there weren't 50 defense attorneys in the room. the defendants weren't conferring with their representation.

the “trial” got started. five were led up to the judge at a time. five lawyers stepped up. the same lawyers stepped up for all defendants. none of the defendants had the opportunity to address the judge individually. none of the defendants had the opportunity to address their case individually. it was a procedure for them to state their guilty pleas. the judge asked if they had any questions. they move on to the next five. the standard plea deal being accepted caps jail time at 180 days. they are deported after serving their sentence. they're then never legally allowed to return to the United States.

who knows what legal counsel they had been given, or if they were made aware of their rights. who knows if they felt they had any option at all other than to plead guilty. the federal government applies pressure on them through the language barrier, through their lack of individualized representation, and through group processing. forcing them through an expedited trial in a foreign justice system.

where is their due process? why is violation of immigration law a criminal proceeding? why are so many taxpayer and federal resources wasted on such a system? does the american war on drugs or the american war on immigration not turn america into equals with the systems we're supposed to be better than? who is the system serving? certainly not the individual. immigration and drugs aren’t the problem, the american demonization of immigration and drugs is the problem. 

one person, of the fifty, indicated he had a question. he asked the judge how he will be able to care for his children, who reside in the United States. through a translator, he asked how he could provide for them if he is jailed. he asked how he could return to them if he is barred from re-entering the United States. he was ushered out of the room as the next five defendants stepped up to the judge.

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