Mass hearings begin in San Diego for illegal border crossers

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Immigration courts in San Diego are starting a new program aimed at speeding up hearings.

During the hearings Monday, a judge say roughly eight defendants at a time. All the defendants were charged with misdemeanor illegal entry after entering the country last week.

The hearings began at 1:30 p.m. The first group contained seven men and one woman. All eight defendants pleaded guilty and Judge Gill Burkhardt sentenced them to time served. Now they’ll be deported to their home countries.

The process of mass hearings is called Operation Streamline and is part of the government’s plan to deal with an increasing load of immigration cases.

California Monday joined several other states that have conducted the mass hearings for years.

Attorneys representing the immigrants Monday criticized the process, saying their clients were in tears and shackled during meetings, something the lawyers say isn’t done for everyone else who commits a misdemeanor.

Attorneys also argued that the immigrants are being forced to plead guilty, saying it’s a threat to our judicial system.

Those who pled guilty Monday could be deported in two or three days if they’re from Mexico or in several weeks if they’re from other countries.

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