Providing Free and Low-Cost Legal Services to
Detained Asylum Seekers in Texas
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In This Issue:


Meeting with Migrants in MPP
This month the Migrant Center is working with asylum seekers who have been forced to remain in Matamoros for case processing under the MPP Remain in Mexico program. We will be bringing you their stories in a special report this month.

DHS reports that so far more than 55,000 asylum seekers have been returned to Mexico under MPP, with around 20,000 waiting in dangerous cities along the border, and that 13,000 MPP border tent court cases have been completed. Read our report about some of the legal and humanitarian problems this program creates.
The goal of our Immigrant Voice reporting is to raise the voices of immigrants by giving them a forum to speak directly to our community about their lives as immigrants, with a special focus on first-hand accounts of challenges the U.S. system creates for them. We are currently looking for sponsors to underwrite this work in 2020 (please contact us at if interested).


How to Develop Strong Legal Theories in Asylum and Convention against Torture Cases: An Update on Matter of A-B-, Matter of L-E-A- and More:

Learn from three immigration law experts on how to develop strong legal arguments in challenging cases - including domestic violence, family-harm, and gang cases after Matter of A-B- and Matter of L-E-A-. Hear our panel of experts provide an overview of the key case holdings and current state of the law, an update on the interpretation of these cases in practice, and creative legal theories and strategies.
  • Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, Immigration Attorney
  • Guillermo Hernandez, Immigration Attorney
  • Lance Curtright, Immigration Attorney
Thank you to a generous sponsor for underwriting the cost of this newsletter and making it possible for the Migrant Center to make this training publicly available. Click here for the recording (materials will be available on our website under Legal Resources: Trainings).

This training is part of a four-part series of asylum trainings hosted as part of Migration Month, approved for Texas CLE credit, that walk practitioners through the steps of an Immigration Court case.
  1. Preparing strong applications and declarations with trauma survivors
  2. Gathering evidence to avoid objections
  3. Presenting a case at merits

If you would like to purchase a recording and materials please make a payment on our donation page at and then email the receipt so we can process your request. Each training is $100 for private attorneys and individuals, $50 for nonprofit and university staff, and free for students.


Convincing the Judge to Give an Asylum Seeker a Chance

With the help of pro bono attorney Tony Ortega, we were able to help a Venezuelan asylum seeker convince the judge to reverse his negative interview results and give him a chance in court for protection. The Migrant Center team has been traveling to the South Texas Detention Complex and assisting detained immigrants all month, including by helping them prepare to present their cases to an Immigration Judge. Besides merits hearing prep, we also do asylum interview “review” prep. For most individuals in expedited removal (apprehended within 14 days and 100 miles of the border) or in reinstatement of removal (due to a prior deportation order) must pass a Credible Fear Interview or Reasonable Fear Interview, respectively, before they have the right to present their case to a judge (read here for our analysis of this process). When an asylum seeker does not pass the interview we help them prepare to “appeal” by speaking with the judge about why they believe they should still have a chance to receive protection in the U.S. During our preparation for this judicial review we explain the process and their rights, discuss tips for testifying and avoiding interpretation problems, conduct a practice session to familiarize them with court questioning, and review the law with them. Of the asylum seekers we’ve met with in the last two months with negative interview results, at least three have valid claims for protection under our laws (others cannot meet all the legal requirements despite facing serious danger back home).

Recent Community Collaborations

Our Executive Director attended the 4th Annual Immigration Statewide Convening meeting with advocates and attorneys, where detention issues and the Remain in Mexico program were hot topics of discussion and brainstorming.
Then she traveled to Houston to speak with about 80 community members who attended a full day series of workshops. She spoke on three panels: conditions in detention, the Remain in Mexico program, and why people are fleeing from their home countries. The next day she spoke briefly about the work of the Migrant Center at the Friends Meeting of Houston and later to a group of Baptist church advocates.

Congratulations to Pro Bono Volunteer Doctor Kate Sugerman

September 20 – Doctor Kate Sugarman was awarded the Medical-Legal Partnership Leadership Award for using her expertise to help release immigrants from detention and reunify families by writing medical support letters, several of which have supported Migrant Center cases. She was honored along with others, including Texas immigration attorney Ruby Powers, for their rapid-response approach to the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, beginning in the summer of 2018 and continuing today. This award annually recognizes an individual or group whose “leadership, vision, and hard work have significantly advanced and strengthened the medical-legal partnership (MLP) movement to reach people and communities in need”. Congratulations Kate and Ruby!

Appeal of the Month: "100 for 100 End-of-Year Campaign"

This month our end-of-year campaign kicks off. The Migrant Center’s 2020 proposed budget is $100,000 and we are seeking to raise $50,000 before December 31st both to balance our 2019 budget and get us set up for the new year so we can focus our energies on providing much-needed legal services to low-income detained immigrants. All we need is 100 people giving $100 to make this happen. We hope you will consider supporting detained immigrants in your end-of-year giving plans.
This is an important fundraising time of year for us as this is when many donors are looking for ways to give back to the community, as demonstrated by the fact that most nonprofits raise a significant portion of their annual budget during the last several months of the year. We are hoping you will join us in supporting detained immigrants. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit all donations are tax-deductible. For information about the legal services your donation will support please go to Questions can be sent to Thank you for your consideration!
Every dollar you donate goes towards supporting the human rights of detained migrants. We couldn't do this important work without you.
Thank you for your support.
Our Executive Director Sara Ramey and other advocates and attorneys at the 4th Annual Immigration Statewide Convening meeting with advocates and attorneys, where the Remain in Mexico program and detention issues were hot topics of discussion and brainstorming among attendees. 


Department of Defense Takes Funds from 127 Projects to Fund Border Wall

September 5 – The Department of Defense is cancelling 127 military construction projects in order to make $3.6 billion available to build 175 miles of the border wall. This is part of Trump’s February “national emergency” declaration – issued in response to Congress refusing to authorize funds  – intended to transfer $8 billion from other projects to build the wall. Many of the cancelled projects – which include a childcare center at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, a hazardous materials warehouse in Norfolk, Virginia, and over $400 million worth of construction projects in Puerto Rico – in districts primarily represented by democrats. Outgoing CBP Commissioner Gil Kerlikowske said in January 2017: “I think that anyone who’s been familiar with the southwest border and the terrain… recognizes that building a wall along the entire southwest border is probably not going to work,” adding that he does not “think it is feasible” or the “smartest way to use taxpayer money on infrastructure.” The U.S. Constitution gives Congress the authority to determine how much taxpayer money goes to federal agencies and how that money can be spent.

ICE Arrests Activist After He Organized a Community Event on Immigration Raids

September 5 – ICE arrested 40-year-old Houston community advocate Roland Gramajo on his way to work three weeks after he organized a town hall to discuss worries about President Trump's immigration raids with Democratic Texas Rep. Sylvia Garcia. He extended an invitation to ICE representatives, who declined to attend but three white men were taking photographs suspiciously taken at the event according to one attendee. Gramajo came to the U.S. in 1994 when he was 15 years old. ICE stated that Gramajo had been deported to Guatemala in 2004 but committed a felony by illegally returning to the United States. His deportation order was reinstated after his arrest. He founded the Guatemalan Organizational Center (Centro Organizativo Guatemalteco), a nonprofit group advocating for the Guatemalan community in Texas. According to an ICE statement: "Gramajo-Reyes's repeated actions have demonstrated that he has no regard for U.S. laws." This is the latest in a long-line of the Administration targeting activists, lawyers, and journalists. For example, a 2019 investigation found that the government was tracking journalists who covered migrant caravans at the border.
“external intelligence note” that was sent to law enforcement and government agencies by the bureau’s Phoenix field office in May warns that immigration activists are “increasingly arming themselves and using lethal force to further their goals,” although it offered no evidence of violence and that “anarchist extremists” are “very likely” increasing the “targeting” of immigration enforcement officers and detention facilities and pose the “risk of armed conflict.” The note mostly refers to nonviolent protests and statements and activist websites and social media accounts calling for “disruptions” near ICE facilities. The memo acknowledges that the claims were made with “medium” and “low confidence.” Congress’ definition of domestic terrorism requires illegal activities harmful to human life. In July, FBI Director Wray testified to Congress that most domestic terror cases involve “white supremacist violence.” Despite this, the Administration has shifted resources and staff away from investigating white supremacist violence, while increasing DHS investigations that have targeted Muslims and other minority groups.

Judge Re-instates Nationwide Preliminary Injunction to Halt Trump Denying Asylum to Non-Mexican Refugees

September 9 – Federal district judge Tigar re-imposed a nationwide injunction against President Trump’s policy denying asylum to refugees who enter the country after passing through Mexico or a third country unless they were a victim of a “severe form” of human trafficking, applied and were denied asylum elsewhere, only passed through countries not party to international refugee agreements (Mexico and all Central American countries are party to at least one such agreement), or arrived by air or sea. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit panel had previously ruled that the injunction could only apply in California and Arizona because the four immigrant-rights organizations challenging the restriction had not presented enough evidence to warrant a nationwide injunction. Judge Tigar said that because some of the organizations have clients outside the 9th Circuit only a nationwide injunction would supply the relief to which they were entitled.

USCIS Wants More Time to Issue Work Permits to Asylum Seekers

September 9 – USCIS proposed eliminating the requirement that the agency must grant or deny an initial asylum applicant’s employment authorization application within 30 days, despite the agency being able to adjudicate 99% of applications in the last year within the regulatory time-frame (which has in place since 1994). Asylum applicants can apply for work authorization if the government is taking more than 150 days to process their case after receiving their application, allowing them to become self-sufficient. In 2018 a judge ordered USCIS to follow the 30-day rule in the class-action lawsuit Rosario v. USCIS, which was filed due to excessive and systematic delays. Documents filed in the case revealed that only 47% of initial EAD applications were being adjudicated within 30 days, an additional 31% of applications within 60 days, and 22% of applications in more than 60 days. Processing times now could be higher than before due to both the increase in asylum cases and to the 47% in processing times overall at USCIS (despite no increase in case load). According to USCIS, the lost compensation to asylum applicants with extended application processing times could range from approximately $255.88 to $774.76 million per year and government employment tax losses could range from $39.15 to $118.54 million. These estimates do not include losses to businesses that currently employ asylum-seekers, losses to asylum-seekers’ family members and networks (financially and due to increased difficulty in obtaining drivers’ licenses, banking services, healthcare, and legal counsel for their asylum applications), and income tax losses to state and local governments. DHS claims to want flexibility to handle: (1) the “increased volume of affirmative asylum applications and accompanying Applications for Employment Authorization” (it is not clear this class of asylum seekers has increased); (2) “changes in intake and EAD document production” (these changes began in 1997 and were fully implemented by 2006); and (3) “the need to appropriately vet applicants for fraud and national security concerns” (additional fraud and national security vetting has been implemented since September 11, 2001 and the creation of the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) in 2004, these screenings usually take place before someone even applies for work authorization, and regardless it would be in the public interest to screen people as quickly as possible). Public comments to the proposed rule are accepted until November 8 here, by either pasting text into the “Comment” box or uploading a PDF file of your comment. See this guide for tips on what to include in your comment:

Supreme Court Rules Only Mexicans Can Receive Asylum For Now

September 11 – The Supreme Court issued a ruling allowing the Trump administration to deny asylum to refugees who transited through another country prior to arriving at the border, meaning that any non-Mexican will only be eligible for withholding of removal or protection under the Convention against Torture. These forms of protection require the applicant to prove a greater than 50% chance of harm, whereas asylum only requires that they prove about a 10% chance of harm. These forms of protection also result in a deportation order that is “withheld” or “deferred” meaning that there is no pathway to legal permanent residency or citizenship and no right to family reunification. Individuals in these categories can apply for work authorization but may be removed to a third “safe” country. While the underlying litigation is pending, any refugees who arrive on or after July 16 will be denied asylum. The 9th Circuit will hear arguments on the merits in December. A separate lawsuit is pending in Washington, D.C. with asylum seekers plaintiffs (as opposed to organizational plaintiffs). This is the 21st time the Trump Administration has sought a stay in the Supreme Court in 2 ½ years, whereas during the 16 years of the Bush and Obama administrations the government only sought a stay eight times.

DOJ Proposes Drastic Increase in BIA Filing Fees

September 17 – DOJ officials have proposed increasing the fee to appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals from $110 to $975 and to $895 for a motion to reopen or reconsider. According to DOJ, fees have remained the same since 1986 and immigrants would still be able to request a discretionary fee waiver. The number of appeals under Trump have increased. In fiscal year 2018 there were more than 30,000.

National Park Service Says Border Wall Will Damage 22 Archaeological Sites

September 17 – The National Park Service issued a report stating that bulldozers and excavators rushing to install the border wall in Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument could damage or destroy up to 22 archaeological sites, causing irreparable harm to unexcavated remnants of the Sonoran Desert people that have lived in this region for 16,000 years and the travelers of the Old Salt prehistoric trade route, as well as imperil the survival of wildlife including the pupfish, the endangered Sonoyta mud turtle, the Quitobaquito spring snail, and the desert caper plant. Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument is an internationally recognized biosphere reserve with nearly 330,000 acres of congressionally designated wilderness. The work to convert an existing five-foot-high barrier into a 30-foot steel wall is part of a 43-mile span of fencing that also crosses the adjacent Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. Some archaeological features along the border already have suffered damage and DHS is planning to bring in heavy earth-moving equipment and potentially use limited groundwater for the concrete bases. DHS announced that it will transfer 560 acres of federal land to the U.S. Army for border wall construction, the only time federal land has been transferred for this purpose. It has taken advantage of a 2005 law to waive several federal requirements — including the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, the National Historic Preservation Act and the Endangered Species Act. The National Park Service’s mission “is to preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources… for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” At least a dozen Native American tribes claim connections to these lands – “We feel very strongly that this particular wall will desecrate this area forever.”

Administration Reaches Agreement to Send Asylum Seekers to El Salvador

September 20 – The Administration has reached an agreement with El Salvador to send asylum seekers there for processing. According to the Administration, this “asylum cooperation agreement” is not a “safe third country” deal and the U.S. will help by building El Salvador’s asylum system through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The Administration will also send additional investment to El Salvador and agree to help the 200,000 Salvadorans who have been living in the United States for nearly 20 years with temporary protected status (TPS), set to expire in January. The Administration reached a similar deal with Guatemala in August that has yet to be implemented. The Administration has also sought similar agreements with Panama and Mexico. 

Minnesota Court of Appeals Rules ICE Detainers Illegal

September 24 – The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the Nobles County Sheriff’s Office can’t keep jail inmates in custody for ICE after those inmates are eligible for release in state cases. 

Judge Moves to Dismiss Case Arguing for Minimum Wage for Detained Immigrant Workers

September 24 – Federal District Judge Bryan issued a proposed order notifying lawyers for the state and for the GEO Group, which operates the large immigration detention center in Tacoma, that he plans to dismiss the case alleging that immigrant detainees must be paid minimum wage for work at the  privately run, for-profit immigration jail. Washington Attorney General Ferguson sued GEO in 2017, saying the company had relied on detainee labor for work that should have earned them the state minimum wage — currently $12 an hour. While the judge previously  said it was too early to determine whether the Minimum Wage Act applied to the detainees, but noted that there was nothing in the law that would exempt civil detainees at a privately run jail from being paid minimum wage, he reconsidered his analysis after the DOJ filed a “statement of interest” last month. His proposed order states that the constitutional principle of “intergovernmental immunity” applies: Federal contractors must be treated just as the federal government itself would be treated, and because the state cannot discriminate against the federal government under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, it cannot discriminate against GEO. GEO maintains a “Voluntary Work Program” at the 1,575-bed Northwest Processing Center. Responses to the purposed order are due October 4.
Reports issued by DHS’ Office of Inspector General in 
June 2019 and September 2018 found that ICE facilities are filthy, brutal, and dangerous. Immigrants are routinely denied access to medical care, given food that is expired and unsafe, denied hygiene items like toothbrushes and soap, denied recreation and visitation, illegally placed in solitary confinement and strip-searched. At least 24 immigrants have died in ICE detention under Trump. A bill, the Detained Immigrants Act of 2019, seeks to address these problems by heightening standards for ICE facilities, increasing inspections, granting more robust rights to detainees, and phasing out ICE’s use of private prisons.

Trump Signs Agreement with Honduras to Send Asylum Seekers There

September 25 – The U.S. and Honduras signed a “safe third country” deal to send up to 26,000 non-Honduran asylum seekers to Honduras for processing under Honduran laws. If granted asylum they would be allowed to live legally in Honduras. Honduras has one of the highest murder rates in the world.

USCIS to Call All Immigrants "Aliens"

September 26 – USCIS is planning to change all references of the term "foreign national" to "alien" in the agency’s policy manual, according to DHS — a word that some view as offensive and unnecessary. The policy manual previously featured more than 800 references to the term "foreign national" and already features more than 100 references to “alien”. USCIS states that: "Under the INA, the term 'alien' means 'any person not a citizen or national of the United States.'" While the term "alien" is found in the law, the word has recently been taken out of the California Labor Code and the Library of Congress after advocacy efforts. Ur Jaddou, the former chief counsel for USCIS, said the effort to replace the words will be time-consuming. USCIS case processing times have already jumped 46% from FY 2016 to FY 2018 (from six to nine months). In 2018, USCIS  removed the phrase “a nation of immigrants” from its mission statement.

Federal Court Tells ICE it is Unconstitutional to Arrest People Based on Unreliable Police Databases

September 27 – A federal court issued a permanent injunction under the Constitution’s 4th Amendment protection against “unreasonable searches and seizures” blocking parts of the Secure Communities program, including  ICE arrests based solely on error-ridden electronic databases as well as the issuance of detainers in states that have not expressly authorized their local law enforcement agencies to make arrests for deportation purposes in state law.  The judge stated that the result of this process “is that many U.S. citizens become exposed to possible false arrest when ICE relies solely on deficient databases” “that lack sufficient indicia of reliability,” as well as numerous non-citizens legally in the U.S. According to ICE, the Secure Communities program – through which ICE officers review police arrest records – is responsible for 70% of all ICE arrests. A significant portion of these arrests are the result of detainers issued solely on the basis of unreliable electronic databases. Advocates estimate that more than 2 million people have been subjected to these unconstitutional arrests since the program began in 2008. The decision applies to all ICE detainers issued out of the Central District of California, including to those issued by ICE’s Pacific Enforcement Response Center (PERC) to detain people in California and 41 other states. The class-action case is Gonzalez v. ICE.
The government plans to
gather the DNA of immigrant detainees and share it with the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System. The 2005 DNA Fingerprint Act states that criminals will have DNA samples taken but created an exception for civil immigration detention.

Federal Court Blocks Administration From Limiting the Flores Settlement's Protection of Children

September 27 – The federal court overseeing compliance with the Flores Settlement issued a detailed memorandum and a permanent injunction blocking implementation of the Administration’s final regulations that attempted to decrease the safety and well-being standards of the Flores Settlement and allow for children to be detained for the months it takes to process an immigration case from start to finish and any subsequent appeal. Initially proposed on September 7, 2018 these regulations received over 100,000 public comments, almost all opposed to the changes. Judge Gee said the Administration could change the Flores Settlement through Congress or a motion showing a change in law or fact “that makes compliance illegal, impossible or inequitable”.
Several days earlier, acting DHS Secretary McAleenan
stated that, "[w]ith some humanitarian and medical exceptions, DHS will no longer be releasing family units from Border Patrol Stations into the interior," ending so-called “catch and release” whereby asylum seekers who prove they have a significant possibility of receiving protection from an Immigration Judge have been allowed to pursue their cases from outside detention.  Instead, because the Flores Settlement Agreement does not allow for indefinite detention of children and the Administration does not want to recognize families’ Constitutional liberty interest, the Administration will send all of these families to Mexico to wait for their court hearings under the inaccurately named Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). Read our report on this program, commonly referred to as Remain in Mexico.

Federal Court Blocks Expansion of Expedited Removal

September 27 – Federal district judge Brown Jackson granted a preliminary injunction blocking DHS from expanding expedited removal to people who are anywhere in the interior of the United States or have been in the United States for less than two years. In so ruling the judge found that the Plaintiffs were likely to succeed on their claims under the Administrative Procedures Act. Read the complaint which also claims that DHS’ July 23, 2019 rule violates Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and federal immigration laws. Expedited removal – whereby DHS can deport someone without the right to see a judge – consequently remains limited to a 100-mile zone from the border, to those who arrived by sea, and to those who have been in the U.S. for 14 days or fewer. The case is Make the Road New York v. McAleenan.

New Jersey Ends 287g Programs Deputizing Local Officials as ICE Agents

September 27 – New Jersey Attorney General ordered that county jails can no longer check the immigration status of inmates effectively ending 287(g) programs whereby local law enforcement agencies contract with ICE to operate as immigration officers. The attorney general said: "2,400 people are arrested in New Jersey on an average week. Those are the people that we need to prosecute and to prosecute those crimes we need victims and witnesses to come forward."
Relatedly, ICE
detainer usage as part of the Secure Communities program increased by 32.4% from fiscal year 2014 to May of fiscal year 2019 in New Jersey. See all states’ data here, as well as information on which law enforcement agency received a detainer request since 2002 (for a total of 2.4 million detainers issued nationally). ICE has been issuing about 6% fewer detainers this year than it did during the same period last year, totaling 13,898 detainers on average each month. The Obama Administration had discontinued Secure Communities as law enforcement participation declined but the Trump Administration restarted the program and detainer usage increased until now. There has also been a shift in where these requests are made, with Texas no longer being the most active state and California taking the lead, with detainer requests jumping by 42%. Law enforcement refusals have increased 36.9% over five years ago. In January 2017 data (the most recent available), ICE detained individuals following the issuance of a detainer less than 40% of the time. ICE has refused to continue releasing this data and TRAC is seeking a court order to require the agency to provide this data, with an evidentiary hearing taking place on August 15, 2019.

Trump Cuts Refugee Admissions

September 27 – Trump reduced the number of refugees to be admitted in 2020 to 18,000. This is the lowest number in the 40-year history of the refugee program, and the fourth time Trump has reduced refugee admissions since January 2017. The Refugee Act of 1980  authorizes the President to set refugee admission numbers, in recognition of the role refugee admissions play in diplomacy and national security. The administration claims it is cutting refugee admissions due to security concerns and resource allocation issues, and to allegedly prioritize humanitarian cases in the United States. Simultaneously, Trump issued an Executive Order that requires states and localities to consent to the placement of refugees in their communities.

Judges' Union File Two Unfair Labor Practice Complaints While DOJ Prohibits Judges from Public Appearances

September 27 – The National Association of Immigration Judges – the immigration judges union – filed two complaints with the Federal Labor Relations Authority alleging unfair labor practices after the DOJ included a white-nationalist blog post from a virulent anti-immigration website in a morning briefing and challenged the judges' right to be represented by a labor union. The DOJ has systematically taken away judges’ ability to control and prioritize their case docket. Read here the Memorandum of Understanding Regarding the Implementation of New Performance Measures for Immigration Judges between representatives of EOIR and the National Association of Immigration Judges. The immigration case backlog had passed 1 million (1,007,155 cases plus 322,535 cases which are pending placement on the active docket). The judges have not been given tools to properly adjudicate cases, like clerks and interpreters, despite more judges being hired. As stated by Ashley Tabbador, the union’s president, “We don’t have the authority to order pencils, much less hire and fire people.” Tabbador states that some immigration judges have confided that they have issued decisions on an immigrant’s ability to stay in the U.S. based on whether the decision would get them fired by the DOJ. It also recently came to light that in 2016 Immigration Judge Couch, who was promoted in August to the Board of Immigration Appeals, threatened a 2-year-old Guatemalan boy with an attack dog in an attempt to make the kid be quiet in court, shouting: “I have a very big dog in my office, and if you don’t be quiet, he will come out and bite you!” The union has been outspoken about problems in the system; for example, read here the statement by the National Association of Immigration Judges on the interim final rule which makes significant changes to the organization of EOIR, including delegating authority to adjudicate backlogged appeals from the Attorney General to the EOIR Director. In August, DOJ took steps to decertify the National Association of Immigration Judges union. 80 members of Congress have urged Attorney General Barr to withdraw the petition to decertify. Among other problems with the Executive controlling the Judiciary, it is a “conflict of interest” for the DOJ to oversee both the immigration judges and the prosecuting attorneys. As Tabaddor stated, “If you have a court that's situated in the law enforcement agency ... that is the fundamental flaw that needs to be corrected.” The Migrant Center has called on Congress to make our immigration courts independent.
Across the country, Immigration Judges, as well as ICE attorneys and asylum officers, have recently been
declining to speak at law schools because they can’t get Administration approval to speak, even on their days off and in their personal capacities. According to former judge Chase, immigration judges “are not even allowed to speak at conferences or law schools, because the administration does not consider them qualified to speak on behalf of the agency or its policies.” The lack of these civil servants’ knowledge and perspectives about the immigration legal system is an important loss to the public discourse on critical civil and human rights issues.

We work to ensure that all immigrants facing removal from the U.S. understand their rights under the law, have access to counsel, and are treated fairly and humanely.

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P.O. BOX 90382 San Antonio, TX 78209
Phone: 210-802-6061
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