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Texas Tent Courts take the strain of Immigration Case Backlog

Migrant Protection Protocol Program Cases heard in Texas Tent Courts

With president Trump’s latest victory in the Supreme court having delivered yet another blow to U.S. asylum seekers, there are even more concerns close to the border. Having this week won the Supreme Court Justice’s decision to allow the Trump administration rule that prevents migrants from applying for asylum in the U.S. if they have passed through but not sought asylum in another country other than their own before arriving in the US,  President Trump has effectively barred all but asylum seekers from Mexico from turning up at the southern border.

The Migrant Protection Protocol program becomes priority

In the same week as Trump’s recent triumph, which has been enforced albeit on a ‘temporary’ basis, authorities have taken unprecedented steps to open courts held in tents in order to hear the cases of cases of many who are queued in the backlog of the “Migrant Protection Protocol” program (MPP) cases.  This unusual measure, which steps outside of regular judicial practices, has come at a time when the president’s “Remain in Mexico” regime is at its most vociferous and is thought to be the result of the established immigration courts becoming overwhelmed.

Many immigration attorneys and Judges believe that the “Remain in Mexico” regime is however actually the root cause of over-subscribed courts; with cases from the MPP program starting to take priority over those hundreds of thousands of other immigration cases waiting to see the inside of a court. The Wall street Journal reports that whilst there are only around 40,000 in the MPP program who await their hearings, there remain several hundred times many more cases of those who are living in the U.S. which are still waiting to be heard;

“MPP has grown rapidly and its cases increasingly are taking priority over those of the roughly 975,000 migrants living in the U.S. who await decisions on their immigration claims, some for years.” (source: The Wall Street Journal)

Remote Video Feeds to the Courtroom

The temporary tented courts which have been seen set up this week in both Laredo, Texas and Brownsville have reportedly been closed off to the public because according to the DHS, they are located on secure government property. In an attempt to process more and more MPP cases, the asylum applicants are connected to immigration judges located in regular courtrooms by using videoconference technology.

As the Wall Street Journal points out; traditional U.S. courts are of course open to the public where they can view daily dockets of cases and watch most of the court proceedings. Many believe that this transparency is key for immigration advocates and lawyers, most of whom only gain face to face access with the immigrants they represent when meeting them in court.

Does the MPP program further endager asylum seekers?

So, whilst the Trump administration launched MPP in order to reduce the number of asylum- seeking migrants traveling to the U.S. as families, before inception of the program, nearly all such migrants were released inside the U.S. to await court dates.

It is reported that up to 700 hearings per week are planned at both Laredo and Brownsville and given that the process is clearly adhering to its “Remain in Mexico” policy, those who may need up to three or four hearings of their cases before receiving a decision, are being released in their numbers back to towns in Mexico such as Matamoros in the state of Tamaulipas, which worryingly carry a “Do Not Travel” Level 4 advisory

What to do if you have questions about your immigration matters?

If you have any questions or concerns about delays in your immigration matters or have a family member who needs assistance simply contact Fong Ilagan today at: 713.772.2300 Our experienced immigration Attorneys are experts in all fields of immigration and shall look forward to helping you with your immigration needs.




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