When the Trump administration recently issued a rule to allow indefinite detention of immigrant families, it repeated its assertion that the vast majority of such new arrivals vanish into the shadows and fail to show up for court hearings.
Data shows just the opposite is true at immigration court in Utah, and at similar venues around the nation.
In the Utah cases opened since 2016, 83.5% of immigrants who were once detained but later released have appeared at all their immigration court hearings — 1,569 of 1,879 cases.
Other migrants have even higher appearance rates in Utah. People who were never detained appeared at 86.2% of their hearings. Those who continued to be confined, not surprisingly, appeared at 99.9% of theirs.
That is according to an analysis by The Salt Lake Tribune of court data gathered by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University. It mirrors national findings reported by TRAC and the American Immigration Council.
“The vast, vast majority here are showing up,” says Utah immigration attorney Mark Alvarez. “In fact, I’m surprised when somebody fails to appear.”
A big reason for that is that immigrants face an extreme, automatic penalty for failure to appear: “They are ordered removed in absentia,” explains Utah immigration attorney Leonor Perretta.
Once that happens, immigration officials “will then track them down and physically remove them. They lose their ability to apply for asylum or other relief from removal. And it carries penalties for other applications they may file in the future, bars reentry and subjects them to reinstatement of removal if they enter the country illegally in the future,” she says.
By Lee Davidson for SLTRIB.COM
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