Darwin BondGraham reports in a profile of justice at the U.S. Immigration Court in San Francisco, CA:
“Ilyce Shugall can rattle off a similarly long list of due-process problems. The directing attorney of Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, Shugall is one of a couple dozen pro-bono lawyers who try to provide counsel to a fraction of the people facing deportation in San Francisco.
“Procedural protections don’t really exist, despite the consequences of banishment,” she said at a recent legal symposium held by the Thelton E. Henderson Center for Social Justice in Berkeley. “There’s no right to an attorney, but the government is represented in every case by an ICE attorney.”
As Shugall sees it, the ICE attorney also has a kind of home-field advantage: Being in the same courtrooms day-in, day-out, allows an attorney to establish better rapport with judges.
And the judges and ICE attorneys all have the same boss: The President of the United States.
The immigration judges are employees of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which is overseen by the attorney general — they’re not members of the independent judicial branch of government. The ICE attorneys work for the Department of Homeland Security.
Over her career practicing immigration law, Shugall said she’s seen ICE attorneys frequently miss filing deadlines without consequences; file motions on the day of a hearing, preventing review by the defense; and withhold records in a case from the person being targeted for deportation, thereby forcing them to file a burdensome Freedom of Information Act request to get the documents.
She’s also seen extended detention result, countless times, in what Mr. Gonzales apparently did in Judge Murry’s courtroom this past December: Give up on his case and beg to be deported, just to get escape the misery of jail.”
The full article, which I found through ImmigrationProf Blog, is well worth a read.
I think that the Administration’s ill-advised “pedal to the metal” detention and removal plans, combined with elimination of funding for various Government sponsored outreach, information, and self-help programs is very likely to bring the due process weaknesses of the current U.S. Immigration Court system to a head.
I would not be surprised if a U.S. District Judge somewhere issues a TRO preventing the Government from proceeding in certain types of cases unless the individual is represented. After all, the Government was recently blocked in the 9th Circuit from proceeding against incompetent individuals without establishing some viable system for determining competency and representing those determined to be incompetent.
I also predict that the Administration’s ill-conceived plan to “jack up” detention, particularly by using private facilities which have been determined to have a greater incidence of problematic conditions, is likely to result in major “conditions of detention” litigation and, perhaps, further intervention by the Article III Courts.
Rather than studying the situation and looking for ways to fix our broken immigration justice system so that individuals receive the due process to which they are entitled, the Trump Administration seems determined to make matters worse by turning up the volume. That’s likely to have unhappy consequences not only for the individuals, but also for the Administration.