A Mexican Immigrant

by James A. Turner
© 2001

The courtroom was silent as the lawyers, judge, accused, family of the deceased, reporters, and other spectators awaited the jury's decision. This decision would affect the next fifty years of a man's life. The question, did the accused kill the owner of a factory where he had worked for three years. The man had sat in a jail cell for almost a year while his trial was prepared and held. Throughout the trial he had proclaimed his innocence, claiming that he was obviously assaulted and he was only being charged because of his race.

Out side of the courthouse hundreds of protestors stood with signs calling for the accused man's freedom. As a group they had been standing in the parking lot for 540 straight hours since the trial had started. Some had come from across the country, while others had walked to the courthouse with their home-made signs. The police tried to break-up the group two times, but the protestors refused to leave the lot. Seventeen had been arrested over the course of the trial, but the group had not been broken and they refused to leave until they got their verdict. Soon they would hear the verdict that would decide the life of a man they had fought for during the last few weeks.

Some rico from Jalisco passed his name to the boss. He's stuffed ten to a truckbed, he clutches his cross. Here comes the exhaust, and it rips through his lungs. He's off fast to the pasture, like cattle he'll cross. Degree 106, sweat and vomit are thrown, and he prays and suffocates upon the memories of home.

Richard Cory had never been poor, or even underprivileged, in fact he had always had the most money out of anybody he knew. Upon graduating the prestigious Cornell University, he had been accepted to almost every major law school in the country. He decided on the law school at the University of California in Berkeley. He had been taken under the wing of a very famous lawyer who was teaching and practicing at the same time, Rupert Henderson.

Henderson felt that it was his personal duty to make Richard the best lawyer there had ever been. He knew that Cory was smart enough, ruthless enough, and he had great connections through his family. Richard was thankful that he could train under a great lawyer from day one and he knew that with hard work and dedication he could be a great lawyer. He was very excited about starting law school.

His composure is well kept, I guess he fears playing the fool. The complacent students sit and listen to some of that bullshit that he learned in school.

The year is 1996, a twenty-two year old man, Juan Miguel Sanchez, had just been smuggled across the Mexican border into the United States. He was taken to the "apartment" where he would live until he earned enough money to buy his freedom or was decided useless by the Americans who brought him. He was given a passport and a social security card with his name on it. He knew that they would only pass at a glance and really served no good.

When Juan arrived at his new home he was greeted by the fourteen other illegal immigrants who where trying to live the free life. The fourteen were made up of eight men, all under thirty, and six women, all under twenty-five. Juan and the others were told that intercourse was prohibited, and if a women got pregnant all in the house would be punished and the child would not survive. The apartment consisted of one common room and a bathroom.

Sanchez had a mixture of feelings toward the men that smuggled him into the country. He was thankful that he was able to get away from his homeland, where he was wanted by the Mexican authorities for housing his fugitive brother. However, he was not stupid, he knew that he was going to work twelve hours a day, get little food, and possibly be beaten. He wanted to get out of this situation as quickly as possible.

All that Juan knew was that he would have to work in a factory for at least six months before he could be free. He also knew that he would never live for those six months if he had to live in these conditions. As he lay in the corner of the room that would serve as his bed, he began to think up ways to escape.

And now he's got a quota, the needle and thread crucifixion. Ripping through denim, the foreman approaches. The steps pound in his brain, his presence it terrifies and eclipses his days. No minute to rest, no minute to pray. And with a whisper the foreman whips him, "My job is to kill if you forget to take your pill."

Richard Cory started law school in 1996, and from day one he was seen as one of the elite. All of the professors knew who he was, most of the students had heard of his family, and everybody went out of their way to make him happy. He started by studying the basics of law, which annoyed him, Cory knew all of that stuff. He wanted to get into criminal law, he knew that was where the money and fame were. Everyday Cory begged his mentor, Rupert Henderson, to take him to the cases Henderson was working on at the time. Henderson old Richard that he would soon have his wish.

Despite his fame and wealth Cory was very personable and well liked among his peers at the law school. He never missed an opportunity to help a classmate with work, or to just hang out at the local bar. He attended as many of Berkeley's varsity sporting events as he could without jeopardizing his grades. Richard was known as a talented basketball player as well, and he would play whenever he got a chance. His desire to win on the court was only surpassed by his desire to win in the courtroom.

On the corner the jury's sleepless. We found your weakness and its right outside your door. Now testify now testify. Its right outside your door.

Juan Miguel Sanchez could not find a way to get out of working in the sweatshop. He had been plotting an escape for the four weeks he had been working there. It was hard for him to escape because he was guarded for twenty-four hours a day. To leave he would have to go through the factory, which was the only way out of the building his apartment is in. He hated everything about his life, the work, the apartment, his boss, everything. Juan, like the other workers, was beaten by the foreman on a regular basis. Anytime his work slowed down at all he felt the wrath of a huge angry man with a whip. Three of his house mates had died from disease in the four short weeks, their bodies were burned in the factory incinerators.

In the middle of Juan's sixth week of work, a Thursday afternoon to be exact, explosions were heard outside of the factory. Seconds later officers from the INS and local police in full military assault gear barged through the two entrances to the factory. Three of the four factory guards were shot to death and the other was seriously wounded. Somebody had tipped the INS off as to the fact that there was an illegal factory filled with illegal immigrants. The two foremen of the factory, along with the boss were arrested and taken in separate police cars. While this was going on Juan and his fellow co-workers were piled into paddy wagons and driven to a nearby hospital to be examined.

Juan spent three hours in the hospital before he was cleared of all medical problems. He had to wait another three hours for the rest of the workers of the factory to be cleared. All but three of the forty-two immigrants were deemed healthy. They were all taken to a local jail where they were separated. Each was interviewed about their work, their home, their country of birth, and their status as an American citizen. All of the factory workers were officially noted as illegal immigrants, and they were forced to spend two nights in the American jail. After his second night Juan heard the words that he dreaded the most, "We are sending you back to Mexico."

His arm jerks, the brothers gather around him and scream, as if in a dream. Eyes on the crimson stream, numb as his wrists spit shots of blood to the floor.

One day Henderson approached Cory with the news that they were going to work on a trial together. Richard was ecstatic, he could not wait to get the files and look over the case work. Cory could not believe it when he read the file, he had to represent a Mexican who wanted to live in the United States. He thought that nothing could be more boring then that, no murder, nobody was hurt or robbed or anything. It was just a boring immigration case. "Welcome to the world of law" Henderson told him, "you have to start at the bottom before you can deal with multimillion dollar law suits son. I took this case so that you would learn how to deal with your hardest customer, someone who you can't understand and who can't understand you."

Cory accepted the work load, and under Henderson's lax supervision he did all of the work in preparation and during the case. Cory and Henderson had to represent an young Mexican man who had run away from his country into the United States, and into the arms of a sweatshop. This Mexican was the only illegal immigrant who had worked at the shop to be given an opportunity to gain asylum. After reading all about the case Cory was excited, this was actually a really hard case and it would take some work to get this man his freedom.

It's a beautiful world we live in a sweet romantic place. Beautiful people everywhere, the way they show they care makes me want to say it's a beautiful world. Oh what a beautiful world.

Juan awoke from his unconscious state handcuffed to a hospital bed. His lower left arm was heavily taped and in great pain. He saw a police officer outside his window walking back and forth. A doctor came into his room and began looking over documents at the foot of the bed. The doctor told him "You are going to be alright, luckily the officers heard one of your cell mates yell and ran over. They were able to stop the bleeding and get you to the hospital quickly. Things could have been a lot worse." Juan knew some English because he had attended one of the better schools in Mexico. He told the doctor, in his heavy accent, "I cannot go back to Mexico, I would rather die first."

Sanchez stayed under protective care for three weeks until his wrist had full healed and he was able to get the stitches removed. During his stay he was interviewed by many people, they all told him their position but he had no idea what the organizations were so he just nodded his head when they talked. They asked him many questions, including why he hated his homeland so much and how he got a razor into a jail cell. He answered them all honestly and was satisfied when they all sympathized with his plight.

After his stay in the hospital, Juan was taken to a court room where he met a lawyer named Rupert Henderson and his young student assistant, Richard Cory. These two men told him that they were trying to fight for his asylum in the United States. After a four day trial the judge decided that it was in Juan's best interest to become and American citizen. Three weeks after his suicide attempt Juan had become a citizen of what he viewed as the greatest country in the world.

What was the price on his head? I think I heard a shot, I think I heard a shot, I think I heard a shot, I think I heard a shot, I think I heard a shot. I think I heard, I think I heard a shot.

Richard Cory was about half-way through law school when he met the girl of his dreams, he thought that she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. It took him two weeks from the first time he talked to her to convince her to go out with him. However, when she did she had a great time and soon fell in love with Cory. As the time in school passed they got closer and closer. At one point Richard proposed to her, she told him that she loved him very much but she would not get married until she finished school. They were married three weeks after they finished school.

In August of 1999 Richard Cory graduated from law school, he graduated early because he was ahead of everybody in his class. He took his bar exam and passed it without trouble. He had a lot of experience with courtroom work, he had worked eight cases during his time in law school. What was even more impressing then the fact that Cory had done so well in school was that he had won all of his cases easily. In his last trial as a law student, Richard Cory had to defend a man who had killed six people with a shotgun. Through various legal avenues the man got off with time served and he had to go to psychiatric counseling every Saturday. This was a great feat because the man was willing to plead guilty for a reduced sentence.

Upon his graduation, Cory went to work for his mentor, Rupert Henderson. He was living every young lawyer's dream: high pay, exciting cases, and plenty of work. Four months after Cory started work, Henderson died. He had problems with his health for weeks but never had it checked out; it turned out to be pneumonia and it killed him in his old age. Three days later Cory's wife was out shopping for the family food when the store was held up. She was shot and killed by a police gunman when the store was raided. Cory's great life had been shot to hell as the two people he was closest to were gone almost simultaneously.

With a one way ticket to the promised land. With a hole in his belly and a gun in his hand. Looking for a pillow of solid rock

It is March of 2000, Juan Sanchez had been working at a small factory for low pay for nearly three years. He arrived to work everyday at eight at night, he worked for six hours, then went home. Juan's job was to clean the entire work space and his boss's office. He had no idea what was made in the factory, he did not understand what the signs on the wall meant. He never interacted with other employees because they were all gone by the time he arrived. Juan dutifully went into work everyday because he was paid eight dollars an hour and got a free apartment.

One late night Juan had finished cleaning in the main factory work area, and was headed to the boss's office. When he got to the office he noticed all of the lights were on, which was rare; also the door to the boss's private room was open, which was rarer. Believing that there may be a thief in the room, Juan slowly pushed the door open. He was shocked to see his boss and the new, blonde, twenty-three year old secretary having sex on the boss' sofa. When she saw him the girl shrieked "Oh my god. Who is that?"

The boss turned and saw Juan, he slowly got up and grabbed a letter opener from the desk. "If you don't get out of here I will kill you." the boss said as he approached Juan with the letter opener. Juan did not understand what was going on, he only saw a very large man he had met twice coming at him with a sharp object. Juan reached into his back pocket grabbed the small pistol he had bought off of a drug dealer for protection. Before the boss could do anything, Juan fired four shots into his chest then calmly left the room. Thanks to the secretary's police statement Juan was found and arrested three hours after the shooting, he had put the gun back into his pocket.

Who got him? Go check the federal file. All you pen devils know the trial was vile.

Early one Saturday evening Richard Cory received a phone call from a number he knew by sight, the county holding cell. The man calling was a Mexican he had represented while he was in law school. He had won this man his freedom and as United States citizen the man had killed his boss. Cory was never reluctant to take this trial, he thought it would help him get over the terrible events that had occurred in his life.

The trial lasted just over three weeks, it had become a highly publicized case because the now famous Richard Cory was representing a poor Mexican for free. There was heated debate in the courtroom, the defense was the Juan Miguel Sanchez had been assaulted. The prosecutors claimed that four shots to a man's chest is a little bit more then self-defense. When the verdict came across very few people were surprised. The evidence against Sanchez was overwhelming and the self-defense claim had not held up strongly. Richard Cory had lost his first case ever, he was shocked.

Cory left the courtroom without saying a word to the press, he walked right through the crowd of protestors and police without looking up. He got into his car and drove away without looking back. As he drove he could not understand why his life had taken such a dramatic drop. He graduated at the top of his class, he had won high profile cases, he had done everything right. Then he lost his best friend, then his wife, then his career. When he got to his house he walked straight to his study, opened his desk drawer, pulled out a .22 caliber handgun and shot himself in the head.

Works Cited

Rocha, Zack De La. Lyrics to all Rage Against the Machine songs (in italics). The Complete Rage Against the Machine Website: The Lyrics. www.musicfanclubs.org/rage/lyrics.htm.

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Updated 06/18/00