AILA and the American Immigration Council recently filed a lawsuit against the U.S. immigration court in El Paso, claiming that the court at the El Paso Service Processing Center (SPC) has arbitrary and unjust rules that decrease asylum-seekers’ chances of staying in the country.
The complaint draws from interviews of attorneys practicing in the El Paso SPC — many speaking only anonymously for fear of retaliation by the judges — in addition to court observations of hundreds of immigration hearings and an analysis of the judges’ courtroom protocols. The lawsuit details barriers to a fair day in court including:
- the use of unreasonable and unjust courtroom procedures established by sitting judges, such as an arbitrary page limit on supporting evidence packets;
- a culture of contempt and hostility toward respondents, including egregious and unprofessional comments from judges;
- blanket denials of requests by remote attorneys to make telephonic hearing appearances; and
- the failure to provide any or linguistically correct interpretation at hearings.
the failure to provide any or linguistically correct interpretation at hearings.