AILA’s New Jersey Chapter Seeks to Enjoin Newark Immigration Court from Compelling In-Person Proceedings

October 16, 2020

The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey denied without prejudice the plaintiffs’ emergency motion for a preliminary injunction to stop the defendants from compelling in-person appearances at the Newark Immigration Court and to require the Newark Immigration Court to provide attorneys with the option to appear remotely by video conference due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In an accompanying order, U.S. District Judge John Vazquez also denied the defendants’ request to dismiss the case as moot. The court found that because the Newark Immigration Court had voluntarily implemented a remote videoconferencing option, the plaintiffs had failed to establish a substantial likelihood of success on the merits for their Administrative Procedure Act (APA) claim or their Fifth Amendment state-created danger claim, and could not establish imminent irreparable harm for either claim. The court noted that if, in the plaintiffs’ view, circumstances arise that necessitate relief, the plaintiffs will be free to seek whatever relief they deem to be appropriate at the time. (AILA New Jersey Chapter v. EOIR, 10/16/20)

  • Law360: NJ Immigration Attys' Virus-Risk Suit Gets Tossed, for Now – October 16, 2020
  • New Jersey Law Journal: One Lawyer Is Dead, Another Infected Amid Calls for COVID-19 Safeguards in Newark Court – October 7, 2020

October 5, 2020

Plaintiffs oppose the government’s request in its September 30, 2020 letter that asked the court to dismiss this matter as moot because it had started conducting remote video hearings at the Newark Immigration Court through the Cisco WebEx platform. Plaintiff’s outline concerns about EOIR’s inconsistent rollout of new video hearings. Plaintiffs explain that “EOIR’s failure to establish comprehensive rules, policies, and procedures governing WebEx hearings has had practical consequences, as the rollout of videoconferencing software has been accompanied by inconsistent practices and ineffective, unsafe hearings.”

September 30, 2020

Attorneys for the defendants sent a letter to the court reporting that EOIR has implemented a new video conferencing option, specifically Cisco WebEx, at the Newark Immigration Court, which allows hearing participants to connect remotely to individual merits hearings without having to appear in person at the immigration court. The defendants also asked the court to dismiss the plaintiffs’ complaint as moot.

September 17, 2020

Defendants requested on consent, and the Court granted on September 21, 2020, an extension to submit responsive information to the Court’s Order until October 2, 2020. As part of the basis for Defendants’ extension request, Defendants noted that EOIR was exploring the potential implementation of a remote video conferencing option at the Newark Immigration Court, distinct from the video teleconferencing (VTC) platform that EOIR has employed at the Newark Immigration Court for many years.

September 15, 2020

The plaintiffs filed an amended complaint adding a new plaintiff attorney in the case. (AILA New Jersey Chapter v. EOIR, 9/15/20)

September 3, 2020

On September 3, 2020, U.S. District Judge John Michael Vasquez heard oral arguments on the AILA New Jersey Chapter’s request for a Preliminary Injunction. (AILA New Jersey Chapter v. EOIR, 8/7/20).

Law360: NJ Immigration Attys Can't Stop In-Person Hearings for Now – September 3, 2020

September 1, 2020

AILA’s New Jersey Chapter filed its reply in further support of the Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. Oral argument is scheduled for September 3, 2020, at 2:00 pm (ET).

August 25, 2020

EOIR opposed the AILA New Jersey Chapter’s Motion for a Preliminary Injunction. AILA New Jersey Chapter’s reply is due on September 1, 2020. Oral argument is scheduled for September 3, 2020, at 2:00 pm (ET).

Law360: DOJ Slams Call to Halt NJ In-Person Immigration Hearings – August 27, 2020

August 7, 2020

The AILA New Jersey Chapter filed a motion for preliminary injunction, as well as a brief in support of the motion, requesting the court to issue a Preliminary Injunction prohibiting EOIR from compelling attorneys to attend in-person proceedings at the Newark Immigration Court.

July 31, 2020

The AILA New Jersey Chapter filed a complaint in district court seeking to enjoin the Newark Immigration Court from forcing immigration attorneys to appear for in-person proceedings at the Newark, New Jersey immigration court during the COVID-19 pandemic. (AILA New Jersey Chapter v. EOIR, 7/31/20)

The complaint noted that:

“The Newark Immigration Court is no stranger to the devastating effects of COVID-19. The coronavirus spread through the court before it closed in March, and COVID-19 illnesses tragically caused the deaths of both a longtime private immigration attorney and a staffer at the immigration prosecutor’s office, as well as causing the serious illness of both a senior immigration prosecutor and a court translator.”

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20080301.