The immigration court system under the Donald Trump government has become “into a deportation machine,” two activist groups denounced in a lawsuit.
The groups — the Southern Poverty Law Center in Washington, DC, and the Innovation Law Lab in Portland, Oregon — charged in their lawsuit filed Tuesday that instead of being fair and impartial, immigration judges report to Attorney General Robert Barr and they are pressured to deny asylum applications.
“Immigration courts make life and death decisions every day: the most vulnerable, seeking asylum in the United States, depend on a healthy judicial system to protect them from persecution, torture and death. Even so, in the immigration courts, the tradition of judicial independence has been reversed.says the lawsuit against President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr.
Melissa Crow, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center and one of the main protagonists of the lawsuit, denounced that some parts of the United States have become “asylum-free zones” because immigration courts in 23 cities have denied more than 85% of the requests. Chief among them is El Paso, Texas, which has rejected 96.6% of orders.
“We have come to brand the current situation as a deportation machine, and it is because it is, because it is virtually impossible, especially in some jurisdictions of the country, to effectively represent individuals in immigration proceedings”Crow told the AP in a conference call with Stephen Manning, executive director of the Innovation Law Lab.
The Justice Department did not return requests for comment on the lawsuit, which was filed in Portland, Oregon.
“The immigration court system is really at the heart of the entire national immigration debate”Manning declared, adding that the Trump administration uses flaws in the immigration courts to justify longer detentions and “totally inhumane practices” such as forcing Central American refugees to wait in Mexico or be transferred to other countries.
Ilyce Shugall, who was an immigration attorney for 18 years, was sworn in in 2017 as an immigration judge but resigned in March.
“I took an oath that I would protect the Constitution with my inauguration. When this government made such a thing impossible, I resigned."Shugall said Wednesday in a telephone interview. The judge who took his oath also resigned.