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Senators Ask EOIR About COVID-19 Signage, Immigration Court Scheduling

March 13, 2020 (1 min read)

Mar. 11, 2020 letter from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Edward Markey to EOIR Director McHenry:

"...We therefore urge EOIR to require the posting of the CDC signage, in English and Spanish, as well as any other relevant languages, in courtrooms and waiting areas to raise awareness of COVID-19 and how to avoid transmitting and contracting it. In addition, we request answers to the following questions by March 18, 2020:

1. Why were immigration judges and immigration court administrators instructed to remove the CDC COVID-19 posters? What "authority" did they purportedly lack to place the posters?

2. Who told Acting Chief Immigration Judge Christopher Santoro to issue the directive? Who in "leadership" was Judge Santoro referring to in his email regarding the posters?

3. Did EOIR consult with qualified public health authorities before issuing its directive to remove the posters?

4. Why was the directive reversed? Did negative publicity play any role in the decision?

5. What steps is EOIR taking to protect immigration judges, support staff, immigrants, attorneys, and the public from the spread ofCOVID-19? a. Are sick employees and members of the public being told to go home? b. Are cleaning and disinfectant supplies being provided to all employees and to members of the public who come to the courts?

6. How is EOIR coordinating with the rest of the Department of Justice about how to respond to COVID-19? Is it receiving guidance from any other federal agencies, such as CDC?

7. In light of the public health concerns posed by COVID-19, will EOIR instruct immigration judges to allow immigrant respondents the opportunity to reschedule immigration court proceedings as necessary?"