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03.27.20

Broad Coalition of Stakeholders Joins NAIJ's Call to Close the Immigration Courts

This week, over 70 civil and human rights groups and immigration advocacy organization urged Attorney General William Barr and Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) Director James McHenry to close immigration courts on an emergency basis in the interest of public health in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additionally, Rep. Pramila Jayapal and Washington State Democratic Congressional delegation, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrod Nadler, and Senators Diane Feinstein, Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey requested information from DOJ and EOIR regarding their decision to keep immigration courts open and requested temporary closure of the courts during the pandemic.

As the Department of Justice reopens immigration courts that were closed days ago, closes other courts due to possible COVID-19 exposure and transmission, and offers no explanation for their seemingly arbitrary decision-making, lawmakers, attorneys, and civil rights groups joined the National Association of Immigration Judges/IFPTE Judicial Council 2 (NAIJ) in calling for suspending hearings in the name of public safety.

NAIJ, government trial attorneys in AFGE Local 511, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association - the organizations representing the people working who adjudicate the law, represent the government, and the respondents in the immigration court - are also joined by civil right organizations in urging DOJ put people’s lives first.

While the Department of Justice and EOIR have postponed immigration court cases for non-detained people and asylum-seekers in the “Remain-in-Mexico” Migrant Protection Protocol, it continues to keep the courts open for cases involving unaccompanied children and people in the detained docket, despite repeatedly closing individual courts where individuals who are suspected or have confirmed cases of COVID-19. This week, EOIR reopened immigration courts in Seattle, New York City, and Elizabeth, NJ, all located in regions where local authorities have implemented aggressive social distancing to slow the COVID-19 rate of growth.

NAIJ, AFGE Local 511, and AILA have repeatedly made clear that priority cases and bond hearings can held remotely exposing workers, respondents, and communities in settings where COVID-19 transmission is likely occurring.

NAIJ, IFPTE and our coalition will continue to press for the temporary closure of the immigration courts for our members, workers, and the public’s safety. For more information, visit NAIJ's website and follow NAIJ's Twitter account.



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