Boston Immigration Court May Be Set to Resume Normal Operations—But Advocates are Raising Serious Safety Questions

According to a report from WBUR News, the immigration court in Boston is preparing to resume large-scale operations in the coming days. This despite the fact that many immigration lawyers are raising major questions about courtroom safety. Further, there is early evidence that the number of COVID-19 cases are once again increasing in Massachusetts. Here, our Boston immigration attorney provides an overview of the scheduled resumption of large-scale immigration court proceedings and highlights the safety concerns being raised by advocates.

Master Calendar Hearings Set to Resume in Boston Immigration Court

The Boston immigration court has technically been “open” through the COVID-19 pandemic. While the court has occasionally been closed on a day-to-day basis because of positive tests by employees, many cases continued to move forward. However, the immigration court was not operating on its normal schedule. Many proceedings were held ‘remotely’ to ensure social distancing and public safety. Now, the court appears ready to resume in-person Master Calendar Hearings. These hearings—many of which are deportation-related—often involve the congregation of large crowds of people, especially in the hallways near courtrooms.

Immigration Attorneys: Serious Safety Questions

Many local immigration attorneys are expressing their concerns over the plan to resume a more normal schedule in Boston’s immigration court. On October 9th, 2020, the New England Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) affirmed that they “vehemently oppose the resumption of any in-person master calendar hearings.” The AILA questions the court’s ability to keep everyone safe from the public health threat posed by the virus.

It is notable that there is evidence that another wave of COVID-19 is hitting our region. Recently, Boston Public Schools moved to fully remote classes for the time being. As reported by NBC Boston, the city’s public schools will not resume in-person classes until COVID-19 infection rates fall for at least two consecutive weeks. The apparent decision by the immigration court runs counter to what else is happening in our region.

Federal Immigration Officials Provide Little Guidance

Under the Trump Administration, federal immigration agencies have offered little guidance on how to address the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Our state’s congressional leaders are demanding better. In a June letter signed by Massachusetts Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, the Senators expressed serious concerns about the lack of federal support. They requested more information and transparency from the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The EOIR is responsible for overseeing operations in immigration courts. Accountability continues to be a real problem for the executive branch under President Trump.

Call Our Boston Immigration Attorneys for Immediate Help

At Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, our Boston immigration law advocates represent each and every client with passion, personal attention, and the highest level of professional skill. Call us now to set up your strictly confidential immigration strategy session. With a legal office in Boston, we provide immigration law services throughout the entire region, including in Waltham, Worcester, Brookline, Cambridge, Marshfield, Taunton, Plymouth, Westborough, and Marlborough.