Immigration courts in new Jersey, Maryland, and Michigan have re-opened after quarantine. It is expected the backlog in the processing of 1.2 million immigration cases, writes AlJazeera. Some courts without explanation was re-closed a few days after the resumption of work.
Three immigration courts in the United States resumed work on Monday, July 13. In Baltimore, Maryland, people are allowed to enter the Federal building, which houses the immigration court only if they are wearing masks. Benches in the courtroom and the seats in the waiting area were blocked with tape, and on the floor and in the elevators were the signs of social distancing.
But scheduled on the same day of the meeting, which may imply the presence of a dozen people in the same courtroom, did not take place.
The courts in Newark and Detroit also had to open on Monday, July 13. Re-opening disturbs many judges and lawyers who say that work on the background of the pandemic coronavirus represents an unacceptable risk of spreading disease.
In the last month, the Executive office for verification of immigration under the Department of justice began to open the courts for detained immigrants. June 15, opened the court at Honolulu, over the next three weeks, opened the courts in Boston, Buffalo (new York), Hartford (CT), Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago, Cleveland and Philadelphia.
The courts in Dallas reopened on June 29, but 5 days later it closed again till July 17 without any explanation. In Texas reported a record number of cases of coronavirus, and the Governor of the state warned that anyone may have to return to the lock mode to gain control over the situation.
In San Diego, where there was also a surge of cases of coronavirus, the court was set to open July 6, but the opening was postponed for two weeks — again without explanation.
Proceedings in respect of immigration detainees had been suspended in March because of the crisis in public health, although the courts in the detention centers continued to operate on a limited basis.
The delay of the judicial system by 1.2 million businesses are becoming more devastating, while the courts are closed. July 13, the Department of justice stated that any court, opening date which has not yet been announced, will be closed until the end of July.
The Department of justice failed to give clear explanations as to what data is used to determine the safety of courtrooms, said Ashley Tabaddor, the judge in immigration cases from Los Angeles, serving as President of the Union of the National Association of immigration judges.
“We keep coming back to the question: “what numbers do you use?”, she said. — They don’t seem to know those numbers in the state that we see”.
Judges in Dallas contacted the trade Union, fearing that their health is at risk. The Union represents the interests of approximately 460 immigration judges, who work in more than 65 vessels.
“People do not believe that the Agency is doing the right thing,” said Tabaddor.
In connection with re-opening the government going to stop e-filing, which was done as a precaution to prevent the spread of the virus.
Tabaddor said that immigration courts are often located in office buildings, not in the court buildings, which is particularly challenging for social distancing, as the rooms are small and the ventilation is sometimes practically absent, especially in old buildings.
According to the world health organization, the coronavirus can linger in the indoor air, increasing the risk of infection in these places.