Video Immigration Hearings Surge Under Trump Administration

Sep 10, 2020 | H-1B Visa, Immigration law, News

Video immigration hearings are rising as ICE puts more migrants in distant immigration jails, and they’re subject to a lot of technical and transparency difficulties.

When the Trump administration ramped up its immigration crackdown, it needed more space to hold all of the people it was arresting. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement looked further from the border for facilities to turn into immigration jails, and Louisiana became a new hub. But because some detention facilities are in rural areas, ICE started using video conferencing systems to hold immigration hearings instead of transporting migrants to court in person. These systems have been in use for decades, but their use has ballooned under Trump. They’re subject to technological glitches, lapses in understanding between judges, lawyers, and immigrants during hearings and an overall lack of transparency. The Verge

In other national immigration news…

Judge Orders Trump Administration to Stop Detaining Migrant Children in Hotels

A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to stop detaining immigrant children in hotels before removing them from the county. District Judge Dolly Gee said the practice skirted “fundamental humanitarian protections,” and ordered federal agencies to stop using the hotels by Sept. 15 and to remove the children from the hotels as soon as possible. The Trump administration has taken at least 577 unaccompanied children to hotels since March. They have mostly been placed in Hampton Inn & Suites hotels in Texas and in Arizona. The Associated Press

Muslims in Michigan Growing More Politically Energized

Four years ago, President Trump won Michigan by fewer than 11,000 votes. That election came at the beginning of a surge in Muslim voting in the state: Muslim voter turnout grew 19 percent between the 2014 and 2018 midterm elections, according to data from Emgage, a voting advocacy organization that focuses on Muslims. Analysts say these voters could make a difference in the upcoming election. This surge parallels an increase in Muslims running for office. “Muslim people have been more engaged since 2016, post-Muslim ban, because they became more aware of their Muslim identity,” Machhadie Assi, a 35-year-old Lebanese immigrant who phone banked for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in 2019, said. Los Angeles Times

Judge Orders Trump Administration to Resume Diversity Visas

A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to resume issuing diversity visas to immigrants from underrepresented countries. The U.S. issues up to 55,000 visas per year to people from countries with low representation in the U.S., including many in Africa. But the State Department had only issued about 12,000 diversity visas for the 2020 lottery when President Trump froze most visa issuance in April. “To be clear, there is no statutory requirement that every available diversity visa be issued each year,” U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta wrote. “But that does not mean that the State Department could effectively extinguish the diversity program for a given year by simply sitting on its hands and letting all pending diversity visa applications time out.” The Associated Press

Mexican Government Uses Development Money for Immigration Enforcement

After facing pressure from the U.S. to curb migration, the Mexican government took money slated for regional development projects and put it toward renovating immigration detention centers and busing migrants away from the U.S.-Mexico border. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration designated more than $4 million from the Mexico Fund to go toward immigration enforcement, The Associated Press reports via records. In 2019, Trump threatened to levy tariffs against Mexico if the country didn’t crack down on migration to the U.S. “Our immigration policy, like our foreign policy, is determined exclusively by the Mexican government … not by the United States nor any other country,” the Mexican government said in a statement. The Associated Press.

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