Boston Globe Deep-Dives Into Immigration Court Delays

Photo Credit: Boston Globe Report, Pat Greenhouse/Staff / File 2015

Citing government studies, The Boston Glove is reporting that the immigration court “logjam” has more than doubled over the past decade, to include about a half-million cases including 11,271 cases in Boston,
“As a result, some respondents’ cases may take years to resolve,” government auditors said in the June 1 report on the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the immigration court system.
The Globe story focuses on a woman, her husband, and their two children who “… fled war-torn Syria in 2013, moving first to Lebanon before arriving legally in Massachusetts in March 2014. They applied for asylum, were granted temporary permission to stay, and were given work permits. So far, however, they have no idea how long they’ll be allowed to remain in the United States. Or even if they will.”
The reporting cites several causes for the backlog, including too few judges and the 2014 jump in people seeing refuge here. Immigration courts are considered “civil,” rather than criminal and thus do not have to provide lawyers and other protections. The courts are not part of the federal courts system but are a function of the Justice Department.
Read the Globe story here: At immigration courts, a growing backlog – The Boston Globe

NYC And Municipal Leadership On Civil Justice

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at her State of the City address. (Photo: William Alatriste/NYC Council as reported in the New York Observer)

Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at her State of the City address. (Photo: William Alatriste/NYC Council as reported in the New York Observer)

Despite the welcomed statewide “traffic court amnesty” in California, it remains clear that municipal governments are leading the way in providing civil justice leadership. The latest example comes from the Big Apple, where the city council has voted to create an “Office of Civil Justice” to connect poor people facing housing and other issues with attorneys.

New York Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has dubbed the proposal “the people’s law firm” and said in a press conference that “… limited access to an attorney means limited access to justice.” Ms. Mark-Viverito said today at a press conference before the Council’s vote on the bill. As the NY Observer reported, “… while plaintiffs in criminal cases are guaranteed lawyers, those in civil cases—which can include deportation, child custody and eviction proceedings—are not.”

Read more here.

Arizona Getting Fed Court Judges, Relief

The U.S. Senate is set to approve six federal judges to the Arizona district, a move expected to relieve a backlog that has resulted in years-long waits for civil trials and an emergency declaration to avoid the constitutional demand for a speedy criminal trial.

The Associated Press reports that “… according to the U.S. District Court website, then Chief District Judge Rosalyn Silver declared a judicial emergency in 2011 to temporarily suspend the time limit imposed on bringing defendants to trial. The Speedy Trial Act mandates that a federal criminal trial begin within 70 days after a criminal complaint or indictment is filed. A judicial emergency can extend that deadline to a maximum of 180 days.”

The notes that the federal courts have relied on visiting judges from other states and temporary use of retired judges. One official told the AP that “… civil cases have been hurt by the backlog as well. He is hoping that judges will now have more time to devote to civil matters. Right now in a busy court like Arizona’s, it is not unusual to wait as long as three years for a civil trial to start.”