Speed-up in NYC Immigration Court

201 Varick St. building (Photo by Christopher Lee via Documented)

Immigration lawyers and their clients in New York have been scrambling to regroup in recent weeks as many cases have been suddenly rescheduled, some of them advanced by several weeks, by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) of the U.S. Department of Justice, reports Felipe De La Hoz in Documented. There have even been a few instances in which immigration lawyers and their clients received notice of the date change and the new date on which they were supposed to appear had already passed. Missing the court date could put clients at risk of deportation.

Explains De La Hoz:

Attorneys in both city’s public defender services and the private bar described realizing that individual hearings had been rescheduled and in some cases assigned to an entirely different judge only after checking an online portal known as I3, which has case information. During individual hearings, a respondent and their attorney present evidence to an immigration judge, arguing for relief from deportation, such as granting asylum or cancellation of removal. These hearings typically require intensive preparation.

“There have been at least two dozen clients who, only through checking the portal have we learned that their individual hearings, scheduled mostly for June, have just been unilaterally rescheduled for dates as early as next week, and there has been no notice, no phone call,” said Sarah Deri Oshiro, the managing director of immigration practice at The Bronx Defenders. The Bronx group is one of three public defender organizations that make up the city-financed New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP).

The hearings are complex and require “hundreds of pages of evidence, witness testimony, and examination and cross-examination of the respondent by both their own attorney and the federal government’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement attorney.” Now attorneys are finding that they may have a few days to gather all the relevant testimony and evidence.

De La Hoz quotes one lawyer as saying that the government’s speed-up, an apparent attempt to clear cases, amounts to “a calculated assault on due process.” Got to Documented for more on the consequences for immigrant clients.

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