12:07, February 01 189 0 abajournal.com

2019-02-01 12:07:08
Hundreds of immigrants show up for hearings that never got scheduled, causing ‘mass chaos’

calendar with January 31 circled.

Image from Shutterstock.

Hundreds of immigrants who received notices to appear at immigration hearings across the country on Thursday learned after they arrived in court that their hearings had never been scheduled.

The immigrants began receiving notices with hearing dates after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that all notices to appear must include a date, time and location, report the Washington Post, CBS News and CNN.

Those notices are supposed to be filed with immigration courts, which are supposed to schedule the hearings. Kathryn Mattingly, a spokesperson for Executive Office for Immigration Review, cited two reasons why that didn’t happen.

In some instances, the government shutdown prevented cases from being scheduled, Mattingly said. In others, the Department of Homeland Security didn’t file the proper charges in time.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association said it was aware of more than a thousand people who showed up in court with the inaccurate notices. Some drove for hours to get there.

Houston immigration lawyer Ruby Powers described the situation as “mass chaos” in an interview with CBS News. “These courts are already short-staffed trying to clean up from the government shutdown’s mess,” she said. “It’s a perfect storm.”

It’s the second time immigrants received inaccurate notices. Hundreds also turned up for hearings that weren’t scheduled on Oct. 31, according to the Post.

Immigration lawyers were aware of a need to double-check the seemingly random hearing dates printed on the notices, according to Virginia immigration lawyer Eileen Blessinger. But immigrants without representation didn’t know that, she told CBS.

Some notices even carried dates that didn’t exist, such as Sept. 31, immigration lawyers said.

The Supreme Court’s June decision, Pereira v. Sessions, is having widespread consequences, report the Arizona Daily Star and Reuters.

Reuters analyzed court data and found that a record 9,000 deportation cases were terminated this summer, a period when immigration lawyers were challenging the faulty notices. The number is 160 percent higher than the same period last year, according to the article, published in October.

That wave of case terminations ended on Aug. 31, however, when the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that notices without a date and time were valid as long as immigrants received a later notice with those details.

Lawyers in Tucson, however, are having some success with one of their arguments, according to the Arizona Daily Star. They have been seeking to dismiss charges accusing their clients of illegally re-entering the United States on the ground that their previous deportations were invalid. Federal judges have split on the issue.