12/11/2012 01:32:47 PM EST
Immigration Courts Inside Prisons, Far From Public View
"A guard punches in a code and the door swings open, but it can take almost an hour to get inside the immigration court with the highest deportation rate in America — not counting the time it takes to drive there from Atlanta, almost 140 miles away. Inside the jail at the Stewart Detention Center, judges in long black robes preside from their benches in courtrooms with cinderblock walls. Inmates in blue, orange, and red uniforms sit on wooden benches waiting to learn whether a judge will let them stay in the United States or send them away. The court has all the trappings of the American judicial system, except for one of its most cherished principles: accountability. In immigration courts nationwide, files and evidence are kept from public view. Hearings are open, but not publicized, and are often held inside detention centers; the few outsiders who attend quickly discover that judges have broad powers to eject the public. Most judges’ full decisions are never even written down." - Boston Globe, Dec. 10, 2012.