In Spite Of Government Shutdown, Arrests & Deportation Proceedings Continue
According to recent reports, while many immigration courts are ‘whittled to a skeleton staff,” forcing postponements in hundreds of thousands of cases that are already pending, deportations are still moving forward by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, who are now essentially working without pay. Border security, immigration enforcement, and the cases of detained immigrants are considered an “essential function” and are therefore moving forward, in spite of the shutdown. However, hearings for immigrants who are not detained have been cancelled, raising both concerns about injustice, and some hope about delays that could ensure new, friendlier immigration policies.
According to flight reports, ICE continues to actively deport immigrants from Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, in particular. In addition, the Justice Department has indicated that detained immigrant cases are moving forward alongside deportations. This includes the notorious case of four men from Mauritania who have lived in the U.S. for over ten years and who are seeking asylum here. The U.S. State Department has identified a number of human rights issues associated with potentially sending these men back to Mauritania, including human trafficking and torture. According to reports, the current administration deported many more people back to Mauritania last year—a 900 percent increase compared to years prior—even though many of them faced serious human rights threats.
Does This Mean Deportation Without Your Day In Court?
Still, the administration has been even less forthcoming about how, exactly, cases are moving forward, leaving immigration and defense attorneys in the dark. There is concern that this could lead to serious criminal injustice issues, such individuals being deported without the due process of law; especially if the judges and courts have been shut down. This is affecting a number of individuals in North Carolina in particular who have been waiting years for their day in court.
Could This Delay Cases Into A New Administration?
However, according to some legal experts, this delay could also work in favor of those awaiting trial because, if there is a new administration put in place in 2020, the Justice Department could overturn decisions made by the current administration, which has released policies unfavorable to those seeking asylum, for example. In the meantime, postponing hearings for asylum seekers could very well mean that orders of removal go stale or get cancelled.
Still, circumstances remain dangerous, as judges and prosecutors associated with immigration courts are employees of the executive, not judicial branch, and thus answer to political appointees within the current administration.
Contact Our North Carolina Immigration & Criminal Defense Attorneys
The stakes are higher than ever for immigrants here in North Carolina. If you are facing any kind of concern, whether there is a criminal charge or an issue related to being in the U.S. legally, you should speak with one of our experienced North Carolina immigration and criminal defense attorneys at the office of Dysart Willis right away to find out what your options are.