National Association of Immigration Judges President Slams Tent Courts

Under the Trump Administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), which went into effect earlier this year, immigration officials have returned more than 45,000 migrants to Mexico to await asylum hearings. As a result, thousands of asylum-seekers have simply given up on their claims rather than risk the violence inherent in living in Mexican border towns.

Furthermore, in Laredo and Brownsville, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has enacted “tent courts” outside of the ports of entry. DHS has banned the public and the press from the proceedings held in these tent courts, which occur with an immigration judge presiding over cases by video teleconference. For journalists and members of the public to view these hearings, they must travel to the courts where the judges conducting the hearings are located.

According to one reporter for the Texas Observer who attended some of these hearings, many migrants simply did not appear in court as scheduled. Others pleaded to not be returned to Mexico, where they had been assaulted. Most migrants were confused, unclear about how to file for asylum, with very few migrants being represented by attorneys. Even worse, major translation errors seemed to plague the hearings, which migrants often unable to understand the judge.

National Association of Immigration Judges President Slams Tent Courts

As a result of these hearings, immigration judge and president of the National Association of Immigration Judges Ashley Tabbador has publicly denounced the tent courts. She pointed out several issues with MPP and the resulting court hearings, including:

  • Caseloads too large to handle and too many hearings scheduled at one time
  • Migrants overwhelmingly unable to access legal assistance
  • No addresses for migrants to send them correspondence about their cases
  • Tent court hearings run by prosecutors rather than by immigration judges, who are not even physically present for the hearings
  • No accountability to the public by conducted closed proceedings

The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the immigration cases of countless individuals and businesses facing immigration-related issues. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf to get the outcome that you are seeking. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our immigration attorneys.

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