Immigration Law

"Churn Them and Burn Them"

Manuel Madrid, Miami New Times, June 27, 2019

"Months before President Donald Trump announced plans for massive immigration raids, members of his administration were busy cooking up plans to deport asylum-seeking families released into the United States.

Their solution? Create expedited dockets for newly arrived families in ten immigration courts in cities including Miami, Houston, San Francisco, and Chicago. These "rocket dockets" fast-track the cases of newly arrived immigrant families, leading to speedy deportation orders for those who don't turn up in court.

... Miami's immigration court has been among the most brutally efficient of the courts with such dockets, ordering removals in absentia in nearly 90 percent of some 2,300 completed cases in the past nine months, according to federal data. Miami, which had the second highest number of family-unit docket cases behind Houston, granted legal relief for just three cases during that time.

... Miami immigration attorney Joe Lackey, who handles cases of asylum-seeking families, says the rocket docket figures don't surprise him.

"Churn them and burn them — that's the mantra here," Lackey says. "Give lip service to due process, and then order them deported as fast as possible."

... "We've heard of immigrants receiving notice the day before their hearing or even after the fact," says Adonia Simpson, director of the Family Defense Program at Americans for Immigrant Justice. "The Miami immigration court serves a large area as far as Key West, Port St. Lucie, Lee County, and Collier County.

... Immigrants can also be unsure about which steps to take after receiving a notice. Notifications to appear in court are required to be written in a language understood by the immigrant, but this is often not the case, according to Lackey.

"Plenty of immigrants get their notices in the wrong language, can't read it, and miss their hearing," Lackey says. "I've had Romanian gypsies be served their notice in Spanish.""