Friday, September 16, 2022
On September 15, 2022, a coalition of nonprofit organizations--including the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), CLINIC, and the National Immigration Project of the NLG--wrote to members of the administration, including Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, to recommend improvements in how addresses are recorded on migrant paperwork.
AILA has made a copy of the letter available on its website here.
As they highlight in the letter, DHS officers regularly include non-residential addresses--and often the addresses of nonprofit organizations--on the paperwork of asylum seekers. They explain:
Earlier this year, nonprofit organizations around the country began receiving government documents, including hearing notices for immigration court and Notices to Appear (NTAs) for asylum seekers they did not represent and have no way to contact. Catholic Charities in New York City received over 300 such notices. Similarly, some nonprofits reported that asylum seekers appeared at their offices with NTAs and reporting paperwork for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that have the nonprofit’s address on the document purporting to be the individual’s intended residence. Of the documents we have reviewed, most were issued in Del Rio and Eagle Pass, Texas.
Clearly, providing a non-residential address, especially to a nonprofit organization that does not represent the migrant and has no way to contact them, raises serious due process problems. They explain in the letter that in absentia orders have been entered against such individuals, but they never received proper notice.
The coalition recommends a number of sound improvements, including implementing a nationwide online or telephonic address change system and creating a system for fixing the current erroneous addresses in the system.