An Immigration Court on LI?

Lee Zeldin (Photo via The Suffolk Times)

Should Long Island have its own immigration court?

That’s what Congressmen Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Peter King (R-Seaford) believe. Kelly Zegers writes in The Suffolk Times that the two legislators, “citing a massive backlog of pending immigration cases, are requesting that Long Island be the place for a new immigration court.” 

In a letter to James McHenry, director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, Mr. Zeldin and Mr. King referred to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s budget request for fiscal year 2019, which included a commitment to open 75 new immigration courtrooms to reduce the backlog of pending cases.

“Pending cases contribute to associated gang violence on Long Island as gang members target youth like [unaccompanied alien children],” the letter stated.

The congressmen cited statistics collected by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data research organization at Syracuse University, which listed Suffolk and Nassau counties in the “top 10” nationwide for pending cases before the immigration court.

In data collected as of December 2017, TRAC breaks data down by town, showing 698 pending cases in Riverhead, 292 in Southold and 11 on Shelter Island.

For immigration lawyers and advocates who often have to leave in the early morning hours to reach Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan on time, the idea has some appeal. But they worry that pushing more cases through at a faster clip could lead to some problems.

And Christopher Worth, an attorney who represents immigrants, says that if an immigration court comes to Long Island, so too should a detention center. Go to The Suffolk Times to read why.

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