their day in court
November 20, 2017 7:35 AM   Subscribe

In theory, there are two parts to an immigration court case. The prosecution (ICE attorneys) has to show that an immigrant is removable — that he either has no legal status in the US or that he’s done something that allows the government to strip his legal status from him — and that he doesn’t qualify for any form of “immigration relief,” which can mean formal legal status or another form of protection from deportation. But without a lawyer, good luck figuring out what any of those forms of relief even mean — much less whether you qualify for them.
So New York City and eleven others are providing lawyers to immigrants facing deportation.

A Day in US Immigration Court: Lots of Cases, Not Much Resolution
Record Number of Cases in Immigration Courts is Simmering Crisis
Despite Hiring, Immigration Court Backlog and Wait Times Climb
Even More Immigration Judges are Reassigned in Trump's Border Crackdown - "In its crackdown on illegal immigration, the Trump administration is moving an increasing number of immigration judges closer to the border with Mexico. The practice is so widespread that half of New York City's 30 immigration judges have been temporarily reassigned for two-to-four weeks at a time between early April and July."
Trump Sent Judges to the Border. Many Had Nothing to Do.
As part of a new Trump administration program to send justices on short-term missions to the border to speed up deportations and, Sessions pledged, reduce “significant backlogs in our immigration courts,” Slavin was to spend two weeks at New Mexico’s Otero County Processing Center.

But when Slavin arrived at Otero, she found her caseload was nearly half empty. The problem was so widespread that, according to internal Justice Department memos, nearly half the 13 courts charged with implementing Sessions’ directive could not keep their visiting judges busy in the first two months of the new program.

“Judges were reading the newspaper,” says Slavin, the executive vice president of the National Immigration Judges Association and an immigration judge since 1995. One, she told POLITICO Magazine, “spent a day helping them stock the supply room because she had nothing else to do.”

Slavin ended up leaving Otero early because she had no cases her last day. “One clerk said it was so great, it was like being on vacation,” she recalls.
posted by the man of twists and turns (3 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I volunteered to fight removals in Boston, which wasn't easy. I had to fight with the legal services non-profit that coordinated defense for poor people facing removal, and even then I couldn't get them to assign me any cases - I had to find clients by word of mouth. I'm glad NYC is doing this on a more organized basis, at least some of those cases are winnable.
posted by 1adam12 at 8:08 AM on November 20, 2017 [7 favorites]

So much depends on having judges (like Katzmann) who have an independent interest in ensuring the system is as fair as possible, if only out of respect for the institution. I hope we get through the four years with enough of them left.
posted by praemunire at 9:26 AM on November 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just want to point out that Dane County, Wisconsin is on the list. Not a city, a whole county. My county. Wisconsin doesn't usually give us much cause to celebrate, but I'm so proud and happy to see my community listed with these cities.
posted by altopower at 10:42 AM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

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