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Department of Justice Prepones Deadlines for Filing Stays on Deportation, Potentially Disrupting Attempts of Migrant Children to Stay Legally in the Country

Deadlines Disrupting Migrant Children to Stay Legally

Written by Taher Kameli & Chathan Vemuri

In what came as a shock to immigration attorneys and clients applying to stay in the US and halt deportation proceedings, the Department of Justice imposed new deadlines for migrant children that critics say have left attorneys and clients in a mess.[1] Last week on November 24, 2020, the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which oversees US immigration courts, set up new deadlines by which migrants in certain cases must file an application with the immigration court to stay in the United States within a matter of weeks or face the risk of being deported then and there.[2]

 

This policy change comes as part of the Trump Administration’s final push to overhaul and change the American immigration system before President Trump departs from office in January of 2021.[3] These changes have been critiqued as unnecessarily complicating the immigration system and posing barriers to immigrants needing longer times for judges to process the applications and consider the distinguishing facts in each case, especially for migrant children.[4]

 

Nevertheless, this deadline change effectively forces attorneys and their clients to rush to make good on time to meet a quicker deadline. This giving them less adequate time to prepare quality applications that will result in successful dispositions in their favor.[5] The deadline changes put pressure on migrants to rush to file hastily prepared applications to avoid imminent deportation. Even if they are within the process of preparing an application or their next court date is months or even up to a year into the future.[6]

 

Furthermore, with a pandemic hindering court proceedings and other congregations, such changes put unreasonable requirements on people and their attorneys doing their best to ensure naturalization through the proper legal channels.[1] Such forced filing procedure also has the impact of potentially forcing applicants to apply for remedies that may not be in their best interest but which they’re jumping onto as a means to avoid deportation, without the requisite time to think about and consider the remedies in question.[2]

 

It is migrant children, however, who are left most vulnerable from these changes to the stay application deadline.[3] As noted above, only certain cases are selected by the EOIR for expedited application process for stay of deportation proceedings.[4] In Boston, for example, where there is a considerable backlog of immigration cases, only certain cases are selected by the EOIR for expedition as opposed to others, and they overwhelmingly involve children.[5] They also deal with clients who are seeking relief elsewhere but are now forced to seek relief with immigration judges who only have remedies that may not be to their advantage.[6]

 

Thus, critics argue that by pushing these types of hastened choices between expedited applications for stay and instant removal. The Justice Department is harming young vulnerable children who have traditionally been given more time to prepare optimal applications for immigration-related legal relief.[7] Considering not only the need to carefully prepare these applications to get the best possible result for migrant children but also the fact that mail delays can lead to long wait times in application processing. Forcing children to file for applications of stay within a very short period of time can have very damaging consequences for them, especially if they are forcibly removed failing to meet these short-term deadlines.[8]

 

What’s perhaps most shocking about this new change is the fact that the judges signing letters requesting for expediting the application process for these clients are not the immigration judges who have experience with the cases in question but rather supervisor judges who do not know the case well and include inaccurate information about it in their notifications of the expedition.[9] As such, this could result in very badly informed decisions that could damage the lives of these children as they face potential immediate removal due to potentially unreasonable deadlines.

 

Moreover, this expedited deadline for filing applications for stays of removal with immigration courts is one of the most egregious of a number of laws and policies enacted and enforced by the Trump administration as it tries to change the US immigration system to a more hardline restrictive one that fits the administration’s goal of “barring illegal immigration” and privileging “legal immigrants” and domestic American workers.

 

In the end, the disregards shown for the specific sensitive circumstances of particular migrant clients affected by these changes in immigration law shows just how far it is willing to make good on its promise to harden immigration policies in the name of “fighting illegal immigration,” even in the midst of suffering an electoral defeat. With the handover of power to the Biden administration being a little more than a month away, it remains to be seen whether further policies of this character will be enacted in the coming weeks.

 

Please fill out the form below or give us a call at +1 (312)-233-1000 if you have any questions about the Justice Department’s changes to the deadline for applying for stay of removal, particularly for cases involving migrant children.

[1] Dooling, Shannon ‘We’ve Never Seen These Orders Issued Before”: New Deadlines in Immigration Court Have Attorneys Scrambling, WBUR News (Nov. 24, 2020) available at https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/11/24/new-deadlines-immigration-court

[2] Id.

[3] Alvarez, Priscilla Justice Department Places New Pressure on Immigrants Facing Deportation, CNN (Nov. 24, 2020 upd 1:42 PM ET) available at https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/24/politics/immigration-justice-department/index.html

 

[4] Dooling, Shannon ‘We’ve Never Seen These Orders Issued Before”: New Deadlines in Immigration Court Have Attorneys Scrambling, WBUR News (Nov. 24, 2020) available at https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/11/24/new-deadlines-immigration-court

[5] Id.

[6] Id. (For example, one such alternative remedy is that of a special immigrant juvenile visa gotten through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.)

[7] Alvarez, Priscilla Justice Department Places New Pressure on Immigrants Facing Deportation, CNN (Nov. 24, 2020 upd 1:42 PM ET) available at https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/24/politics/immigration-justice-department/index.html

[8] Id.

[9] Dooling, Shannon ‘We’ve Never Seen These Orders Issued Before”: New Deadlines in Immigration Court Have Attorneys Scrambling, WBUR News (Nov. 24, 2020) available at https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/11/24/new-deadlines-immigration-court

[1] Alvarez, Priscilla Justice Department Places New Pressure on Immigrants Facing Deportation, CNN (Nov. 24, 2020 upd 1:42 PM ET) available at https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/24/politics/immigration-justice-department/index.html

 

[2] Dooling, Shannon ‘We’ve Never Seen These Orders Issued Before”: New Deadlines in Immigration Court Have Attorneys Scrambling, WBUR News (Nov. 24, 2020) available at https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/11/24/new-deadlines-immigration-court

[3] Alvarez, Priscilla Justice Department Places New Pressure on Immigrants Facing Deportation, CNN (Nov. 24, 2020 upd 1:42 PM ET) available at https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/24/politics/immigration-justice-department/index.html

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.