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NAIJ President Tabaddor Discusses EOIR’s Inadequate Response to COVID-19 with USC School of Law

This week, Judge Ashley Tabaddor, NAIJ/Judicial Council 2 president, spoke with Elle Fersan, director of USC Law School’s Immigration and Global Migration Initiative and Camille Alick of Alick Communications about the bipartisan case for an independent immigration court that has only become more obvious during the agency's pandemic response and recent moves.

With Immigration Courts continuing in-person hearings for the detained docket (which includes unaccompanied children), Judge Tabaddor recounted the pressure campaign and coalition-building that NAIJ has undertaken to move the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) to postpone and stop non-detained hearings and the “Remain-in-Mexico" cases during the pandemic. Unfortunately, EOIR has failed to consult with the NAIJ and provide a plan to keep judges, support staff, government attorneys, respondents, and the public safe from COVID-19 transmission. Further, Judge Tabaddor noted that the circumstances of the pandemic are creating difficulties for detained respondents as they gather evidence for their cases.

NAIJ, working with the union for ICE trial attorneys, the American Immigration Law Association, and other legal and lawyers organizations have joined together to call for all in-person hearings to be suspended and detained bond hearings to be conducted remotely. During the conversation, Judge Tabaddor noted NAIJ position on what should be guiding the agency’s pandemic response: “we think the health of everyone -both the people involved with the court and by extension the nation must be paramount.“

Also recently, Judge Mini Tsankov, NAIJ Eastern Region Vice President, wrote in the American Bar Association’s Human Rights Magazine about the dire implications of political interference in the Immigration Court holds for due process and fairness for all who appear before the court. In the article,Judge Tsankov reviews the myriad ways that the current executive branch leadership has diminished the judicial independence of immigration judges and the political considerations that are guiding the agency.

Watch Judge Tabaddor’s Fireside Chat on Immigration Courts and COVID-19 on YouTube.

Read Judge Tsankov’s article, "Human Rights at Risk: The Immigration Courts Are in Need of an Overhaul”, in ABA's Human Rights Magazine.

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