Thursday, January 16, 2020

Excellent Read on the Realities of Immigration Court

El Paso Immigration Court, Photo by me!

AP visits immigration courts across US, finds nonstop chaos is a must read and, really, a must assign as well.

The article offers vignettes from immigration courtrooms all around the country. Each rings familiar to anyone who has spent time in immigration court, and each paints a vivid picture for students who likely have little to no experience with that unique environment. Take these paragraphs, for example:

There’s so much chaos it’s hard to keep track. At times, an interpreter is missing, or stumbles over dialects or local slang. Video systems fail.

And there are papers everywhere -- except, sometimes, where they are supposed to be.

There are other good articles about immigration court out there -- see, for example, the 2014 WaPo piece In a crowded immigration court, seven minutes to decide a family’s future, which I've assigned to students in the past.

What makes the AP piece so great and my new go-to, it the breadth of it. The snapshots from all over the US are all eerily repetitive: overburdened courtrooms, IJs crumpling under the crushing demands of performance metrics, poor technology, poor facilities, unrepresented migrants, unforgiving laws. That is a depressingly accurate portrait of our current system.


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