It’s only been in effect for a month, but the Trump administration’s new zero-tolerance immigration policy has already yielded so many arrests that the courts are totally overwhelmed and turning to mass trials just to get everyone seen.
Under past administrations, immigrants with no criminal history caught at the U.S.-Mexico border were sent back to their home countries or, if detained, typically housed with their family members as they moved through immigration court.
But over the past month, the U.S. has brought criminal charges against every adult immigrant apprehended — a drastic policy shift that has upped the workload for defense attorneys and clogged federal courtrooms with, at times, over 75 defendants in a given hearing. Most shockingly, it has created conditions that routinely separate adult migrants from their children with no consistent mechanism in place to reunite them.
VICE News obtained audio of one of these mass trials in McAllen, Texas to illustrate what it is like to experience one of the new mass hearings, and to sit down with Assistant Public Defender Richard Gould.
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