Alert: View AILA’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center

Immigrant Advocacy Groups File Suit Challenging the Weaponization of Immigration Courts

The Southern Poverty Law Center, Innovation Law Lab, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., and Santa Fe Dreamers Project, with the pro bono assistance of Perkins Coie, filed a lawsuit challenging the weaponization of the nation’s immigration court system, or the creation of “an adjudication system where applicants for asylum are supposed to lose.” Specific policies challenged include the perpetuation of immigration court jurisdictions where asylum is effectively impossible to win, the creation of a backlog of more than a million immigration cases, the implementation of enforcement-oriented performance metrics for immigration judges, and the implementation of a rapid-removal family docketing directive. (Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center v. Trump, 12/18/19)

The complaint outlines pervasive dysfunction and bias within the immigration court system, including:

  • Areas that have become known as “asylum-free zones,” where virtually no asylum claims have been granted for the past several years.
  • The nationwide backlog of pending immigration cases, which has now surpassed 1 million — meaning that thousands of asylum seekers must wait three or four years for a court date.
  • The Enforcement Metrics Policy, implemented last year, which gives judges a personal financial stake in every case they decide and pushes them to deny more cases more quickly.
  • The “family unit” court docket, which stigmatizes the cases of recently arrived families and rushes their court dates, often giving families inadequate time to find an attorney and prepare for their hearings.

For more on the lawsuit, visit the Innovation Law Lab’s website.

[This functionality does not work on your device. Please use the download button to access the PDF. A separate PDF reading app may be necessary.]

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 19121837.

Open the Document