Justice Department Reviewing Trump’s Decision To Keep Immigration Courts Open Amidst COVID-19

The inspector general of the Justice Department is currently reviewing the Trump’s decision to keep the nation’s immigration courts functional while the coronavirus pandemic swept through the United States.

The Executive Office for Immigration Review, the office within the Justice Department that supervises the immigration court system, came under increased condemnation from immigration judges, lawyers, and prosecutors for continuing with immigration hearings despite social distancing directives and shelter in place orders.

Eventually, the agency adjourn hearings scheduled for immigrants who were not in detention, providing some reprieve and resulting in reduced traffic at the court, but hearings for immigrants in detention centres, including children, continue to proceed.

It made gradual changes to court operations in the initial stages of the outbreak, often late in the night and through Twitter, frustrating immigration judges and attorneys who repeatedly urged the agency to close courts altogether.

According to the inspector general’s website, the department will “assess EOIR’s communication to staffs, parties to proceedings, and the public about immigration court operations or proceedings; its use of personal protective equipments; its use of worksite flexibility; and its ability to prevent health risks while maintaining operations during the coronavirus pandemic.”

The concerns about the Justice Department’s approach brought about an unprecedented alliance between immigration judges, lawyers and prosecutors who joined together to call for courts to be closed.

The National Association of Immigration Judges, an association or body representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement trial attorneys, and the American Immigration Lawyers union, collectively, called for the closure.

The Justice Department has since shut down some immigration courts, while others courts remain open only for filings of cases and hearings of people already in custody.

In the other news, Acting Homeland Security chief, Chad Wolf said President Donald Trump’s recent executive order is the first step, saying additional immigration measures aimed at non-immigrant temporary visas should be anticipated soon.

President Trump signed his executive order restricting some immigration to the U.S last month, nearly forty-eight (48) hours after posting the move on Twitter.

The order directs the DHS and the Labor Department to look at additional immigration measures or recommendations. Continue reading here!