Immigration Law

New York Lawsuit Challenges Replacement of Immigration Court Hearings with Video Technology

Jessica Zhang, Andrew Patterson, Lawfareblog, March 5, 2019

"In the latest salvo in a long debate over the use of video teleconferencing (VTC) technology in immigration courts, several legal aid organizations filed a class-action lawsuit on Feb. 12 in New York challenging the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) practice of denying in-person hearings to immigrants. The government and other proponents of remote adjudication by video argue that it improves efficiency, while skeptics worry about how it affects judges’ ability to evaluate credibility and immigrants’ ability to present their cases. There have been several legal challenges to the practice since it was introduced in 1996, though this most recent one is the largest and most sophisticated.

... On Feb. 12, the Legal Aid Society, the Bronx Defenders and Brooklyn Defender Services, which provide free guaranteed representation to detained individuals in removal proceedings under the city’s New York Immigrant Family Unity Project (NYIFUP), filed a class-action lawsuit, seeking an injunction against the New York Field Office’s new policy. Seven detained or formerly detained noncitizens who were denied the opportunity to appear in person at their removal hearings serve as individual named plaintiffs and class representatives. The three legal services organizations serve as additional organizational plaintiffs."