Long Odds: Defending Yourself In U.S. Immigration Court

We’re waiting in a cold white room. Chris Bhang hits the buzzer for the third or fourth time, explaining that it usually takes a couple tries before an officer opens the door.

“I’m just hoping for the lowest penalty,” says Bhang, a lawyer at Ineo Law Group, a small Seattle immigration law firm.

We are mostly silent. After another ten minutes, an officer in a uniform with a GEO Group badge on the shoulder finally comes and lets us in.

We walk down a long, blank hallway. The officer opens a door on our right and all of a sudden we’re in the middle of a courtroom. The seal for the Executive Office for Immigration Review decorates the wall behind the judge.

This is U.S. immigration court.

The first national study on attorney representation in U.S. immigration courts was just completed last year. The UPenn Law Review Study found that only 37 percent of all immigrants and 14 percent of detained immigrants have representation in immigration court.

In the courtroom, Bhang is defending a 19-year-old detainee at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, Washington. Due to court regulations and lawyer confidentiality policies, I can’t tell you the name of the detainee or take photos in the courtroom.

There’s currently a backlog of more than half a million pending cases in U.S. immigration court

By The Seattle Globalist
Read full article HERE

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