Featured Issue: EOIR’s Decision to Transfer Mesa Verde Detention Facility Cases to Van Nuys Immigration Court

In January 2020, EOIR announced that as of February 3, 2020, the San Francisco Immigration Courts would stop hearing cases of detainees at the Mesa Verde Detention Facility in Bakersfield, California. Instead hundreds of cases will be moved to a new immigration court in Van Nuys, California, that opened in November 2019.

Per The Guardian, legal aid attorneys and public defenders are concerned the transfer will deny legal counsel to detainees whose cases are being moved. Existing programs, including the pro bono “Attorney of the Day” program run by the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco (JDC)’s Immigration Legal Defense Program (ILDP), ensure that most noncitizens detained at Mesa Verde receive access to legal counsel before they see an immigration judge. According to the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, DOJ’s decision “will make it more difficult for San Francisco and Alameda County public defenders to appear in the immigration court on behalf of immigrant detainees” because the Van Nuys court is nearly 400 miles away from San Francisco. JDC believes that “the administration is purposely transferring jurisdiction to prevent noncitizens detained at Mesa Verde from accessing counsel.”

On January 24, 2020, JDC IDLP, as part of the California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice (CCIJ) sent a letter to EOIR leadership requesting that the agency halt the transfer of jurisdiction, or delay implementation, until a stakeholder meeting is held.

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Government Resources

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20012704.