ICE Hit With Proposed Class Action Over Lengthy Detention Spells for Immigrants

By Michael Joseph on January 26, 2019

  • Our Westchester Immigration and Deportation lawyers know that the Immigration Court backlog keeps rising. As of end of April 2017, the number of cases waiting for a decision had reached an all-time high of 585, 930 in a report published.  On  average individuals have currently been waiting 670 days, and may have to wait much longer before their cases will be heard. Those waiting for decisions include applicants for asylum, cancel of deportation and cancellation of removal as well as DACA and TPS. The Immigration Court in San Francisco has nearly 42,000 backlogged cases has some individuals waiting for more than five additional years- as much as 1,098 days longer- for their July 21, 2022 hearing date.
New Judges are Insufficient to Address Incoming Caseload

During the past 24 months, the Immigration court has been adding new judges.  In contrast to 2013 and 2014 when few judges were added to court ranks, a total of 79 new immigration judges have been approved. But there is little evidence that this increase in hiring is sufficient to handle the incoming caseload, let alone make a dent in the court’s mountainous backlog. Today the situation is significantly worse.  As noted above, by the end of April 2017 the backlog had increased by 28.3 percent to 585,930.  Individuals with pending cases already have waited an average 670 days, up from 635 days.  And for some their hearings are now scheduled as many as 1,098 days into the future, up from 1,766 days before this hiring spurt began.

According to a new class action lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of an immigrant who has been locked up in Orange County, the median wait time for immigration detainees to see a judge at the immigration court in Lower Manhattan has ballooned from 11 days in 2014 to 80 this year.

The New York Civil Liberties Union has joined forces with The Bronx Defenders and the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law to file a proposed class action lawsuit alleging that immigrant New Yorkers, including those here legally, held in immigration detention are waiting months on average before they can see a judge.  It has been alleged that ICE arrests more than 1,000 people in the New York City area annually.  The suit states that, according to government data, 72 percent of detainees are languishing in jail for more than two months before they are brought before an immigration judge; 40 percent of detainees are eventually released on bond. Our New York deportation lawyers know how stressful and damaging this process can be for the person in deportation proceedings and their family. They also allege that the immigration dragnet has swept up legal residents—about 30 percent of detainees are green card holders, the suit states. This danger of being detained even as a green card holder is a good reason to apply for citizenship as soon as you are eligible,

The delays have been exacerbated by stepped-up immigration enforcement, which is creating a bottleneck in the courts.  People arrested by ICE and detained in criminal jails in New York and New Jersey are detained for months, simply waiting for a first hearing before a judge who can determine whether or not they should even be locked up.

The suit is the second that the NYCLU filed against federal immigration authorities this month: it has also filed a proposed class action suit alleging that a required background check for immigrants is causing their children to be locked up in government custody for weeks and sometimes months.

Our New York Immigration attorneys are ready to challenge the detention of any immigrant who has been detained in New York jails for over months and simply waiting for a first hearing before a judge.

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