The Executive Office for Immigration Review has failed to enact any meaningful changes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many other parts of the immigration system have made drastic changes to their operations (USCIS canceling all in-person interviews and swearing-in ceremonies and stopping biometrics appointments), EOIR has refused to halt all in-person hearings with detained immigrants.
In an incredible demonstration of solidarity, immigration attorneys, immigration judges and ICE prosecutors banded together to demand a halt to all immigration court proceedings. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (representing immigration attorneys around the country), the National Association of Immigration Judges (the Immigration Judge’s Union) and the American Federation of Government Employees (ICE attorney Union) wrote a joint document to EOIR urging that all immigration courts be closed and hearings cease. The groups all recommended that only bond hearings for detained immigrants should go forward and should be conducted telephonically to reduce the spread of COVID-19. With the exception of a few detained immigration courts, hearings are moving forward in detention centers as if there were no pandemic.
In a move that will severely restrict the ability of detained immigrants to access legal representation, ICE has implemented a policy requiring legal visitors to bring and wear their own personal protective equipment (PPE) when entering any immigration detention center. This appears to be whether an attorney is going to attend a court hearing or visit a client in the detention center. ICE issued this policy knowing full well that even medical providers could not obtain PPE when treating patients with COVID-19. The result of this policy will mean that detained immigrants will not be able to have personal access to legal representation resulting in attorneys not being able to fully prepare their clients for hearings.
The demand from organizations for EOIR to cease operations continues. If you or a loved one are in deportation proceedings and don’t know what is going on with your case, call Joseph and Hall for a consultation.
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Effective March 25, 2020, in response to “Stay at Home” orders Joseph & Hall PC is closed to the public and is now conducting nearly all of its operations remotely during the COVID-19 health crisis through April 18th.
We continue to have a limited number of staff in our office to perform basic operations such as assembling and filing petitions, receiving and distributing mail and issuing checks. We are grateful to be in a business that is conducive to remote work and for all of your patience and support. Our lawyers and paralegals are here to answer the array of questions that continue to arise daily and will keep you informed during these rapidly changing times. We will hold telephonic or video meetings rather than in-person meetings. These meetings can be done by SKYPE or Zoom Conference call so that you can continue to interact with your legal team, face-to-face.
We remain committed to delivering outstanding client services. We do have one important request – please do not come into the office in person for your health and safety and that of our employees. Please mail or email all documents to our office. Also, you can make any required payments online at https://vpspay.com/p/3 or make them over the phone by calling 303-297-9171 or by mail. Please stay healthy!