More than 600 women with their children and unaccompanied children are detained in an ICE facility in southeast New Mexico in the desert town of Artesia. The detention center was opened to help house newly arriving Central American refugees. One ICE official spoke out confidentially and said, “The goal is to process the immigrants and have them deported within 10 to 15 days to send a message back to their home countries that there are consequences for illegal immigration.[i]”
The conditions and reports of the court process in Artesia are reported as appalling.
Volunteer attorneys representing asylum seekers frequently speak out about the conditions in which they find immigrant women and children. Several professionals involved report that mothers are directed to testify before an immigration judge, right in front of their children, and detail the physical, emotional and other abuses committed against them to prove the credibility of their pleas for asylum.
Only 38 percent of asylum seekers are granted relief in Artesia, significantly less than other facilities. Laura Lichter, a lawyer from Colorado who has been making volunteer trips to represent women and children in Artesia recently told reporters that, the living conditions there are like a “hellhole” and the way court cases are being handled is “appalling.[ii]” Many agree with the criticisms of what has been happening in Artesia, which led to a lawsuit filed against the U.S. by several human rights advocacy groups.
New Denver Immigration Judges are taking over some of the asylum docket for video hearings.
Video hearings for asylum seekers are being transferred from Immigration Judges in Arlington, VA to their colleagues in Denver. In the same time zone, as one proponent noted, the immigration judges in Denver are expected to more fairly uphold due process of law while engaged in the expedited review of immigrant asylum cases. Of course, the spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Justice, Kathryn Mattingly states the decision to reassign cases to the Denver judges had nothing to do with complaints about the Artesia facility or the pending lawsuit.[iii]
Two of the Denver immigration judges will be taken off the current Denver immigration court docket, leaving the third judge to manage a staggering 8,000 plus cases with hearing dates set out as far as 2018. Local attorneys practicing before the Denver Immigration Judges have mixed feelings about the transfer. “The general feeling is that we are really happy to have these [asylum] cases in Denver,” said Denver immigration attorney Byron Large, who also lamented the increased backlog of other immigration cases.
To learn more about volunteer attorneys and the need for their services, please read our article, “More than 60,000 unaccompanied minors need immigration lawyers and volunteer organizations need pro bono help.”
Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues including and related options for undocumented immigrants seeking immigration relief. For more information about the law firm, please visit www.KiKisLaw.com, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter. You can also review Attorney Mosley’s endorsements on her Avvo profile.
[ii] Denver Post, Backlogged Denver immigration courts will take on glut of asylum cases, by Nancy Lofholm, Sept. 22, 2014.
[iii] Denver Post article at HNii above.