'Surge Docket' Would Increase Deportations, Advocates Say

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Central Americans Freed By Border Patrol Depart For Destinations Around The U.S. (John Moore/Getty Images)

The Justice Department is overhauling procedures in immigration court to speed up the processing of thousands of unaccompanied children arriving in New York from Central America.

Beginning on August 13, unaccompanied children and adults with children will be the first in line to appear before immigration judges, according to lawyers and advocates who work in the system in New York.

The so-called "surge docket" will be in operation five days a week, instead of the current handful of days a month when pro bono attorneys are also present. Eve Stotland, director of legal services at the Door, a youth development organization, said that leaves her concerned.

“The new process is a conveyor belt for children’s deportation," she said. "It’s not appropriate for this country to be removing children in this way."

The children and adults with children will get their first hearing before a judge within 21 days. Judges in New York are expected to hear 35 cases every day, and cases will get a second hearing within six to eight weeks instead of several months.

A spokeswoman for the courts would not confirm the changes as of late Thursday, but said they’re continuing to adapt to the evolving situation on the border and "concentrate on fair and expeditious hearings."


David L. Lewis


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