Immigration Courts Increasingly Turn to Videoconferencing for Hearings

The historically high backlog in U.S. immigration courts has resulted in more and more federal officials conducting immigration hearings via video teleconferencing (TVC). For instance, although Puerto Rico is still suffering the hurricane’s aftereffects, judges at the San Juan Immigration Court in Guaynabo will begin hearing the cases of immigrants at the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey via VTC. The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) claims that an increasing use of VTC will help achieve the goal of cutting the case backlog in half by 2020, by increasing the productivity of immigration judges in terms of hearing and adjudicating a greater number of cases.

Whether VTC is used in immigration court hearings tends to vary widely. At the Elizabeth Detention Center, for instance, one-third of all cases are occurring via VTC, even before the Puerto Rico judges started hearing the cases. Newark’s immigration court, however, had only 108 hearings conducted by VTC out of its more than 2,300 cases. In federal fiscal year 2016, EOIR reports that almost 113,000 hearings were held via VTC.

 Nonetheless, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports that despite widespread and increasing usage of VTC, the U.S. Department of Justice has not looked into whether VTC has any impact on the outcome of the cases. The GAO also accused the EOIR of failing to keep adequate documentation of the number of immigration hearings held by VTC, although EOIR disputes that claim. Immigration attorneys also are concerned about the impact of VTC on the outcome of immigration hearings, stating that it can be difficult for a judge to assess an immigrant’s credibility over VTC, rather than hearing and seeing the immigrant in person.

 As your case winds its way through the immigration court system, we are dedicated to providing you with the essential legal advice that you need throughout your deportation proceedings. We are here to represent your interests before the immigration court and appeal any adverse decisions, if warranted. We devote all of our efforts to advocating on behalf of you and your family before the immigration court. Don’t hesitate to contact the Bay Area immigration lawyers of Landerholm Immigration, A.P.C., and set up your legal consultation today. We are here to help.

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