Skip to main content

Public Access to Immigration Hearings – Think Again


Per Federal Regulations, unless certain limited exceptions are met, all immigration hearing must be opened to the public.  The rule itself is straight-forward, individuals should be allowed to enter and observe the justice system at work.

Well, not so.  I just returned from a trip to the Stewart Immigration Court, an Immigration Court that is actually located inside the Stewart Detention Center in the small town of Lumpkin, Georgia (Population 1,097).  Respondents are brought into the court room shackled and orange jump-suited and attorneys are allowed to enter only a few moments before their client’s turn and then just as quickly escorted out when the hearing is over.  There are no observers in the gallery, except for the other shackled, jump-suited detainees.

I arrived about an hour early for my hearing so I asked the clerk if the hearings were open. Of course, she assured me.  I then asked her if I could enter one of the hearing rooms to observe ongoing hearings.   I don’t know about that, she told me.  I have to check on that.  Please do, I asked her.  To make a long story short, I was never allowed into the “open” hearings.  I was allowed to enter only moments before my client’s hearing and then as soon as it was over, I was escorted out.

It’s sad and also a little scary that this rule is being ignored.  Openness is fundamental the fairness of our judicial system and when courts begin to limit public access, we all lose.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

If You Are An Immigrant (even a US Citizen), Here Are 9 Things You Should Know

Are you a Naturalized U.S. Citizen, Lawful Permanent Resident, Visa Holder, or an Undocumented Immigrant? We recommend you take the following steps to protect yourself in our current version of America.
The last couple of weeks have reminded immigrants, even naturalized U.S. citizens, that they were not born in the United States. Our office has received countless phone calls, emails, and social media messages from people worrying about what their family’s future in the United States holds.
Most people want to know what they can do now to protect themselves from what promises to be a wave of anti-immigration activity by the federal government. Trump's Executive Order on Interior Enforcement has some provisions that should make most Americans shiver.  We recommend the following actions for each of the following groups:
Naturalized U.S. citizens. In particular if you have a foreign accent, and you are traveling within 100 miles of any US Border (including the oceans), we strongly rec…

Why is USCIS Taking So Long to Renew DACA Work Permits?

If the calls to our office are any indicator, there are thousands of DACA recipients whose work permit applications were filed at least three months prior to expiration, who are still waiting for their renewed work permits.  Without renewed permits, these individuals lose the right to work legally, the right to drive, and may once again accrue unlawful presence.

The DHS published a notice in October 2014 advising DACA recipients that they could file their request for extension up to 150 days (5 months) prior to expiration.  As with all things government, very few of the DACA recipients, who tend not to frequent government websites, knew about the memo and many did not file so far before expiration perhaps thinking that extending a work permit was a like extending a drivers license, its is done in a few minutes.  As an experienced immigration lawyer will tell you, the USCIS does nothing quickly, and certainly does not worry that a person may lose their job or their driver's licens…
Si usted es inmigrante (incluso un ciudadano de los EE.UU.), aquí hay 9 cosas que usted debe saber.

¿Es usted un ciudadano estadounidense naturalizado, residente legal permanente, titular de una visa o inmigrante indocumentado? Le recomendamos que tome los siguientes pasos para protegerse de nuestra versión actual de América.
Las últimas semanas hemos recordado a los inmigrantes, incluso a los ciudadanos estadounidenses naturalizados, que no nacieron en los Estados Unidos. Nuestra oficina ha recibido innumerables llamadas telefónicas, mensajes de correo electrónico y mensajes de medios sociales de personas preocupadas por el futuro de su familia en los Estados Unidos.
La mayoría de gente quiere saber qué puede hacer ahora para protegerse de lo que promete ser una ola de actividad anti-inmigración por parte del gobierno federal. La orden ejecutiva de Trump sobre la aplicación de la ley interior tiene algunas disposiciones que deberían hacer temblar a la mayoría de los estadounidenses. …