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AILA Doc. No. 19040232 | Dated April 3, 2019
|Tessa Wiseman, firstname.lastname@example.org|
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 3, 2019
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the American Immigration Council (Council) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) filed an administrative complaint with government oversight agencies demanding immediate investigation into systemic due process concerns at the El Paso Service Processing Center (SPC) immigration court in El Paso, Texas. The El Paso SPC Court has the lowest asylum grant rate in the country, yet thousands of cases are heard in the court every year.
The complaint was filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ) Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).
According to Katie Shepherd, National Advocacy Counsel for the Immigration Justice Campaign, a joint Council-AILA initiative to fight for a fair day in court:
"Detained immigrants are faced with near-impossible obstacles to accessing a fair day in court. For detained asylum seekers who are unrepresented by counsel, the chances for long-term safety in the United States are almost nil. El Paso has served as a staging ground for unjust government policies like the piloting of family separation and now the expansion of Remain in Mexico.
"Injustice has seeped into the one place where politics and biases must not be allowed to determine the fate of vulnerable people: the courtroom. We have uncovered a systemic pattern of dysfunction and lack of meaningful oversight in the U.S. immigration court system at large."
Immigration Judges at the El Paso SPC Court granted only 31 out of 808 asylum applications (3.84 percent) between Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 and FY 2017. In FY 2016 and FY 2017 combined, judges at the El Paso SPC Court granted just seven out of 225 cases (3.11 percent).
The complaint draws from interviews of attorneys practicing in the El Paso SPC - many speaking only anonymously for fear of retaliation by the judges - in addition to court observations of hundreds of immigration hearings and an analysis of the judges' courtroom protocols.
The complaint details barriers to a fair day in court including:
The complaint highlights a number of recommendations and corrective actions, including calls on DOJ to make all standing orders publicly available, repeal and prohibit the use of problematic standing orders, and provide additional training on appropriate conduct for Immigration Judges.
The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts toward immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change-litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. Follow the latest Council news and information on ImmigrationImpact.com and Twitter @immcouncil.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members. Follow the latest AILA news and information on ThinkImmigration.org and Twitter @AILANational.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 19040232.