The judges are concerned about a possible contagion as many people gather at the hearings
The country's immigration courts, including those in Los Angeles, face the possibility of a closure due to the expansion of the coronavirus.
"We are ready to close the courts if there is a bigger risk", said to The opinion, Dana Marks, president emeritus of the National Association of Migration Judges (NAIJ).
"This situation worries us not only by the judges but by the assistants and all the staff working in the courts. Between 35 and 50 people come together in one room. It is not recommended to keep as many people together as things are with the coronavirus, "said the judge.
As a union of judges, it revealed that they are putting pressure on the Department of Justice (DOJ) so that while the emergency is over, other alternatives are sought to attend cases such as telephone hearings.
"Ending cases takes precedence over public safety. That happens when the immigration court is used as a police immigration apparatus, ”the National Association of Migration Judges published on its Twitter account.
The Seattle, Washington Immigration Court closed Wednesday after a second-hand case of exposure to the coronavirus was reported.
"The announcement of the closing of the Seattle immigration court was released Tuesday, March 10, through a tweet from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) from the Department of Justice, ”said Judge Dana. But it was not revealed for how long it will be closed.
A day later, on Wednesday, March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.
The judge said they have criticized the Justice Department for not giving them enough information about the coronavirus and not doing a good job in this regard.
Even this week said federal agency ordered removal of coronavirus prevention posters issued by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from immigration courts across the country, including Los Angeles.. But federal authorities backtracked, asking to replace the preventive posters on the door and window of each immigration court room.
Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward J. Markey sent a letter to the EOIR when they heard reports that judges and staff were asked to remove from the courts and immigration facilities all posters with public health information related to the coronavirus.
"It is time for executive branch departments to prioritize public health considerations and make their decisions based on the recommendations of qualified authorities such as the CDC, rather than restricting information and creating unnecessary controversy," they said in a statement.
They urged the EOIR, which also The posters are published in English, Spanish and other relevant languages in the courts and waiting areas to raise awareness about the coronavirus and how to avoid its transmission and contagion.
Immigration attorney Alex Gálvez said that except for this incident, everything has gone smoothly in the Los Angeles courts. "The judges have recommended that if someone is sick, they can request without delay that their hearing be postponed to another date."
Gálvez pointed out that many judges are wearing gloves as a preventive measure.
For his part, immigration attorney Richard Lucero said that he has observed that some litigants have come with masks to court hearings.
The Citizenship and Migration Service (USCIS) issued a statement confirming that there will be no sanctions for those who reschedule their appointments as a result of the coronavirus.
"If you have the following symptoms such as cough, runny nose, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath, and you don't feel well, change your appointment for another date," asked the USCIS.