Protesters Who Blocked Buses Of Immigration Detainees Sentenced To Time Served

By Kate Sheehy
July 21, 2015

TUCSON -- Twelve people were sentenced in Tucson Monday for protesting Operation Streamline, a federal immigration court program that fast tracks deportation proceedings. The program was started in 2005 as a strategy to deter repeat illegal border crossers.

Michel Marizco
A protester chained to the wheel of a bus carrying people to deportation hearings in Tucson

In October of 2013, protesters chained themselves to buses carrying immigration detainees to mass deportation hearings under Operation Streamline. Judge Susan Bacall of Pima County’s Justice Court credited defendants for time served for two misdemeanor charges: blocking a roadway and public nuisance.

Maryada Vale was one of the defendants and is a volunteer with the immigrant rights group "No More Deaths." She said she's happy the group didn't receive a harsh sentence, but she said people need to continue to act until the program is shut down.

"We’re also grieved that everyday there’s a harsh sentence for the mere crime of trying to reunite with one’s family," Vale said.

The attorney for the defendants said they were each in custody about 14 hours.The state had asked for a sentence of 150 hours of community service and said the protest was unlawful. The lawyer for the state argued that the protest put the public in danger and expended city resources.