In the past few days, we’ve seen various changes to the processing of cases before the Immigration Courts and ICE. Although the Immigration Courts have cancelled many hearings, the courts have remained open to receive filings. ICE has temporarily changed many of its standard practices. To provide you with the most current information about what’s happening, below we have answered various questions we have recently received.
What’s happening with hearings before the Immigration Courts?
Hearings scheduled through April 10, 2020, for persons in the United States who are not detained have been postponed. For those that are waiting on hearings in Mexico as part of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP or “Remain in Mexico”) hearings scheduled through April 22, 2020, have also been postponed. If you have a hearing scheduled during this time, you should call 1-800-898-7180 to verify the date of your new hearing. You can also access the court’s automated case information system to get information about your case here: https://portal.eoir.justice.gov/InfoSystem/Form?Language=EN.
For those in the United States and not detained, it is likely that the Immigration Courts will begin to hear cases again beginning April 13, 2020. To keep up to date with the status of the Immigration Court, we have been monitoring the various announcements posted by the Courts at: https://www.justice.gov/eoir/eoir-operational-status-during-coronavirus-pandemic.
Many Immigration Courts have remained open to receive filings even though various hearings have been postponed. If the Immigration Court set a deadline in your case, it is important to meet the deadline even if the hearing has been delayed. Just because a case has been delayed doesn’t mean there isn’t work to do. Case preparation and filings with the Immigration Courts continue. Moreover, if your case has been delayed it’s important to review whether the delay affects your case in any way.
What if I have an appointment to report to ICE?
In many locales ICE is permitting individuals to report via telephone. One should verify with the local office that supervises determine whether they should report in person. For the moment, the San Antonio ICE office is allowing individuals to report by telephone. ICE officials are also calling to change reporting dates to a later date. If you have an appointment with ICE in San Antonio and want to ask whether you should appear in person, you should call 210-564-2032, 210-564-2033, or 210-564-2034, Monday through Friday, between 9:00am and 3:00p.m.
What about Immigration Court hearings for those that are detained by ICE?
For those that are in ICE custody, hearings before the Immigration Court are proceeding as scheduled. Many ICE detention centers house Immigration Courts inside. Most of those courts are only allowing clients, their attorneys, and court staff to appear for hearings. Attorneys must provide and use personal protective equipment (PPE) such as goggles, gloves, and a mask in order to attend the hearing. In various locations the Immigration Judges are allowing attorneys to attend hearings via telephone.
Can I visit someone who is detained by ICE?
To avoid the transmission of COVID-19, ICE detention Centers have prohibited social visitation. This means that family and friends are not presently allowed to visit persons detained by ICE. Attorneys are still permitted to visit with their clients, but must bring and wear PPE.
Can I post an immigration bond so my family member can be released by ICE?
Yes, immigration bonds can still be posted. ICE is restricting the receipt of payment, however, to locations that have a payment window or other barrier to limit the transmission of the coronavirus. In the San Antonio area, you can post an immigration bond at 3523 Cross Point Drive, San Antonio, Texas 78217.