In a country ground to a standstill by the coronavirus pandemic, there is one place normalcy reigns: immigration courts. Overburdened judges oversee packed proceedings; attorneys shuttle clients and paperwork from room to room, often with interpreters in tow; aspiring legal citizens, or at least residents, follow closely, sitting through hearings famously described as death-penalty cases held in a traffic court. The courts, along with visa applications, detention hearings and other immigration related bureaucracy, are seemingly the lone part of the federal government still expected to function as if a global pandemic hasn't upended nearly every facet of American life. But those tasked with keeping the machine running say that they have received little guidance about how to keep the system running in the era of social isolation, and even less protection despite fears that immigration proceedings put some of the most vulnerable people in the country in the impossible position of choosing between their health or their home. The Trump administration has refused to allow immigration courts and visa hearings to comply with the same social isolation standards followed by nearly every other civil aspect of government, and has not allowed for previously scheduled hearings to be postponed. The administration… Read full this story
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