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Immigration Law

'Rocket Docket' Immigration Hearings Violate Due Process, Experts Say

Safia Samee Ali, NBC News, Oct. 27, 2016- "Since 2014, almost 40,000 cases have been closed by "rocket docket" courts, which aim to expeditiously push immigration proceedings involving families with children, like Sandra Gutierrez, through the legal pipeline, according to a recent report by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC). The report found that in 70 percent of those cases, which are decided by immigration judges, detained migrant families were processed through immigration courts without legal representation. Such processing often only takes a few weeks, even less, in many cases, according to the report. ... The "rocket docket" cases are civil, not criminal, so individuals are not afforded sixth amendment rights to an appointed attorney. However, there are still constitutional ramifications, said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of Immigration Law Practice at Cornell Law School. "Basic due process applies everyone, whether you're a citizen or not," he said. "These are complex cases, asylum is one of the most complex, so it's hard to find a good attorney, particularly harder under these time constraints." These families, who have "an international right" to seek protection under the U.N refugee Convention signed by the U.S., are being denied due process if they don't have enough time to seek a lawyer, he said. The speed of these cases disenfranchises those that are most vulnerable,mothers and children, many who have merit based asylum cases, he said."