By Katy Murdza (immigrationimpact.com)
In an attempt to rush through immigrant families’ court cases, the government began implementing “rocket dockets” in September 2018 for parents and children who had recently entered the United States together without authorization. The program is intended to discourage Central American families from coming to the United States by quickly deporting those already here. But by drastically shortening the timeline of the court process, the dockets prevent many asylum-seeking families from accessing a meaningful day in court.
As of June 2019, over 56,000 cases were on these dockets in 10 cities around the country.
Some immigrant families are only given a matter of weeks to find a lawyer and prepare their cases, and many attorneys report that expedited cases are scheduled too quickly to prepare well. This compressed timeline increases the chances that a family will have to navigate our complex immigration detention and removal system without an attorney. Those who go into court with no representation are much more likely to lose their cases.
Additionally, judges are under increasing pressure to close cases due to strict completion quotas. This adds more incentive to rush through cases at the expense of due process.
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