Things That Matter

Justice Sonia Sotomayor Breaks New Two-Minute Rule By Interrupting Lawyer During Immigration Case

There’s no denying Justice Sonia Sotomayor is a passionate person. Some may have the false presumption that the Puerto Rican, Bronx-born judge would be biased toward liberal-leaning causes. However, one of the main reasons she stands in the most elite courtroom in the country is because former President George W. Bush nominated her as a judge on the United States District Court in 1991.

She moved up the ranks with each administration, and in 2009 was nominated for Supreme Court by former President Barack Obama. As the first person of Latino descent to serve on the Supreme Court, Justice Sotomayor has brought a new perspective to the court. In this new term, Justice Sotomayor hit the ground running, even if she stepped in too soon. Turns out there is a new guideline for questions that the justice is still getting used to.

Lawyers who are arguing cases before Supreme Court judges were given a new guideline: they could argue cases without any interruptions for at least two minutes. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, however, forgot, apparently.

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The high profile case that was being argued last week concerned a man named Ramos Garcia, an undocumented immigrant, who was convicted in Kansas for using a fraudulent social security number in order to obtain a job at a restaurant. The matter in question is whether the law that was broken was a federal crime or a state crime.

Garcia’s lawyer argued that he could not be convicted by the state of Kansas because all crimes committed by undocumented immigrants fall under federal law, not individual states. Officials in Kansas said they wanted to charge Garcia for stealing a social security ID number with their state identity theft law. A local court ruled in Garcia’s favor, so the state appealed the matter, which is why the matter is now in the Supreme Court. 

Justice Sotomayor interrupted a prosecutor during his argument to ask a question about when a state has the jurisdiction to prosecute an undocumented immigrant, breaking the new two-minute room.

Credit: Unsplash

According to Fox News, the prosecutor posed the argument “whether states can prosecute immigrants using information obtained on employee verification forms.” 

Justice Sotomayor jumped in and asked, “Even if they were applying to a college?” Chief Justice John Roberts interrupted the exchange by saying, “I’m sorry. You can answer that question after your time has …” Then Justice Sotomayor apologized, according to Fox News. 

She apparently interrupted prosecutors for a second time, but some experts are blaming this mishap on the newness of the rule and the fact that the justices have to adapt to the change.

Credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The new 2-minute rule was introduced in order to give lawyers a chance to make their first arguments before answering questions posed by the justices. According to NBC News, Justice Sotomayor is known to ask a lot of questions. 

Here’s how the new 2-minute rule works, as NBC News reports: “The Court generally will not question lead counsel for petitioners (or appellants) and respondents (or appellees) during the first two minutes of argument. The white light on the lectern will illuminate briefly at the end of this period to signal the start of questioning. Where argument is divided and counsel represents an amicus or an additional party, the white light will illuminate after one minute.”

While the light is used to help the justices know when they can speak, Justice Sotomayor was eager to ask a question, which doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.

Credit: @kimberlyrobinson / Twitter

A public interest litigator tweeted, “Seeing a lot of media reports that Justice Sotomayor ‘violated a rule’ in oral arguments today. But there is no ‘Rule.’ The Guide for Counsel explicitly states it is not a source of Rules and says ‘The Court *generally* will not question…during the first two minutes.’ ‘Generally.'” That means, she’s not really breaking a rule, but going against a new guideline. So why is there all of this fuss about this interruption? She’s only getting accustomed to this new guideline. She’s not trying to be a troublemaker. All of this is to note that Justice Sotomayor is just doing her job.

Fox News noted that perhaps Justice Sotomayor should take pointers from her colleague, Justice Clarence Thomas who, in 2016, asked his first question in ten years.

READ: Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor Married A Gay Couple And It Was The Sweetest Thing

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

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On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

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Biden Administration’s Handling Of The Border Criticized By Both Sides Of The Aisle

The Biden administration inherited more than an out of control pandemic when they got to work in January. The former administration also left the Biden administration an orchestrated crisis at the border. For some, President Joe Biden is not acting fast enough to fix the problem.

President Biden announced that Vice President Kamala Harris will lead the response to immigration at the border.

The approach, according to Politico, is going to be a two-pronged approach to effectively curb irregular immigration. First, the vice president will focus on stopping the migration journey by addressing the issues in the countries that people are fleeing. Particularly, Vice President Harris will be focusing on the issues in the Northern Triangle countries, which are El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

At the same time, the vice president will be working with the countries directly to solve the root problems. Vice President Harris will be working to strengthen the nation’s relations with Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

“I can think of nobody who is better qualified to do this,” President Biden told reporters at the White House.

There is a lot of talk about the U.S.-Mexico border right now from both Democrats and Republicans.

Bruno Lozano, the Democratic mayor of Del Rio, Texas, is calling on the Biden administration to take steps to curb the issue. Mayor Lozano was a guest on Fox News recently and spoke about what he saw as an influx of migrants coming into his town. Mayor Lozano told Fox News that the number of people coming to the border has strained Customs and Border Patrol in his city.

“You have a breach on national security levels that have never before been seen in modern history and you’re not even batting an eye about it, you’re not even calling it a ‘crisis‘, you’re calling it a quote-unquote challenge,” Mayor Lozano, told the New York Post on Sunday. “It’s a slap in the face.”

Some residents of Del Rio are critical of their local leaders shifting blame for their own shortcomings.

The brutal winter storm that recently shut down Texas depleted many municipalities of their resources. Residents in Del Rio are putting the blame on their local leaders who have tried to pass the buck. Weeks after the winter storm crippled Texas, grocery store shelves remained empty and residents felt overlooked.

Mayor Lozano has been pleading with President Biden to step up and help them deal with the influx of migrants. Del Rio has one processing center for migrants and the increase has left the city and the processing facility strained.

The Biden administration has faced backlash after photos of detention centers show people sleeping on floors.

There have been several reports that the Biden administration is building new places to hold migrants that have come to the border seeking asylum. The administration is currently taking in unaccompanied minors who are arriving at the border while preventing other migrants from crossing the border.

The Biden administration promised to change the approach to the border, but Title 42 has been left intact. Title 42, which was enacted by the former administration at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, keeps people from entering the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an order that invoked Title 42, which closed the border indefinitely due to public health concerns.

At the root of the attention is the claim that there is a surge of migrants.

Some Republican politicians are claiming that news of more lenient immigration laws is prompting a “surge” of arrivals. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California claims that what is happening is a “crisis … created by the presidential policies of this new administration.”

Yet, a Washington Post report debunks the idea that there is a sudden surge. Rather, what is happening, according to the report, is a usual seasonal trend. CBP has reported a 28 percent increase in apprehensions at the southern border in January and February but data shows an annual spike in migrants from March to May every year.

The issues on the border are complex and will require a lot of time and energy to handle effectively and compassionately. The Biden administration promised to tackle the complex issue of immigration during the campaign.

READ: Biden Is Counting On Mexico’s President To Help With Immigration But That’s A Risky Move

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