After less than an hour of deliberations, a seven-person jury returned a stiff penalty in the damages trial of Juana Villegas, the undocumented Mexican mother of four detained by the Davidson County Sheriff's Office following an arrest for a minor traffic offense in 2008, who subsequently went into labor while shackled in chains.
A jury of seven awarded $200,000 in compensation to Villegas for her suffering, which the city's attorney Allison Bussell managed to knock down from $1.2 million by downplaying Villegas' post-traumatic stress syndrome and attacking the credibility of expert witnesses.
Read all about it at The City Paper.
On a related note, Obama Administration officials announced earlier today the adoption of new guidelines for immigration and deportation practices. These could very well have prevented Villegas' detainment in the first place, even if they will probably do little to appease the "They tuck r jebz" set.
Per these changes, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will review 300,000 immigration cases to better differentiate non-criminal illegal immigrants from the "worst of the worst" — a calculus that the sheriff's office hasn't always aced in implementing Immigration & Customs Enforcement's controversial 287(g) program.
The changes will also provide a path to citizenship to those aliens seeking a work visa, while reserving prosecutions for only those illegals whose criminality poses a tangible threat to national security.
In a letter disseminated to U.S. senators supporting the policy change, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano wrote that her agency's resources must focus on those high risk priorities because "doing otherwise hinders our public safety mission — clogging immigration court dockets and diverting DHS enforcement resources away from the individuals who pose a threat to public safety."
Yet in a conference call to media, senior officials within the Obama Administration lavished praise on the Secure Communities program, or "S-Comm," which was recently deigned mandatory despite significant criticism from both immigration advocates and law enforcement professionals. In their estimation the program is a rotting bureaucratic corpse, but officials gave it the old Weekend at Bernie's treatment: S-Comm is doing great, they say, and hits "94 percent" of its intended targets — even if most of them happen to be non-violent offenders.