The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been giving out “fake dates” or “dummy dates” for appearances at Immigration courts in cities across the nation, according to an article in the Dallas Morning News.
As a result of ICE’s failure to coordinate and clear appearance dates for hearings, the notoriously backlogged immigration courts have been thrown into “chaos.”
Documents ordered people to appear on September 31st – a month with only 30 calendar days. Over a dozen of those who did appear – many without criminal records – were told to complete a form and call a phone number regarding their actual appearance date. Some even traveled long distances and discovered that “either they were not in court proceedings at all or the date they received to come was completely [erroneous].”
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in the Justice Department is “is responsible for setting and resetting appearance dates upon receipt of a notice to appear filed by” the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which oversees ICE. The EOIR has not commented or explained how fake dates were assigned for court appearances.
Ashley Hubbard, director of legal services at the National Immigration Justice Center, commented that “[t]he immigration court system is confusing enough on a normal day… But to have an individual who probably does not speak English… and receives a document in which DHS purposely listed a fake date and time is a real different level of confusion and absurdity.”
Non-Citizen Immigrants Have Constitutional Rights
People have been notoriously detained for months while awaiting a hearing at an immigration court. These fake dates could raise due process concerns for those stuck in the immigration system.
In fact, the application of the U.S. Constitution does not turn on citizenship, but rather on personhood. For example, the Fifth Amendment states that “no person . . . shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” Moreover, in Reno v. Flores, the U.S. Supreme Court held that “it is well established that the Fifth Amendment entitles aliens to due process of law in deportation proceedings.”
When people are detained pending a hearing with an immigration court, they are kept in detention centers. Thus, they have been deprived of liberty. Moreover, assigning non-existent court dates to detainees prolongs their stay in detention facilities. For detainees with children or other dependents, any delay undoubtedly results in a significant hardship on their families. Many detainees cannot speak English and cannot afford to pay an attorney’s legal fees. As a result, people can be stuck in a detention center for months and even years, separated from the families and loved ones.
Consult an Experienced Immigration Attorney
Unfortunately, many of those who are at the mercy of the U.S. immigration system are often in danger of having their constitutional rights violated. That is why it is important for those who are trying to navigate the complex immigration system to have competent legal counsel.
If you or a loved one are having trouble with ICE or the immigration courts, contact Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. or call (888) 491-8770 to consult with an experienced Cleveland immigration attorney.