LOS ANGELES, CA – A report released today reveals gross miscarriages of justice in the expedited immigration court docket established by the Biden administration for families seeking asylum, including the deportation of several hundred children who never had their day in court. While the Administration promised that the program would “resolve asylum cases more expeditiously and fairly,” the study based in Los Angeles–one of 11 cities where the docket operates–finds that the sped-up process, known as “Dedicated Dockets,” leaves already vulnerable families in the dark, without lawyers to help them, and has ended in an order of deportation for 99.1% of those with completed cases.
The Biden Administration’s Dedicated Dockets: Inside Los Angeles’ Accelerated Court Hearings for Families Seeking Asylum was released by the Immigrants’ Rights Policy Clinic, part of the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law.
Among the report’s main findings:
- 99.1% of all cases completed as of February 1, 2022 on the Dedicated Docket in Los Angeles, resulted in deportation orders.
- 70.1% of those on the Docket in Los Angeles do not have attorneys.
- 72.4% of deportation orders were issued in absentia—i.e. the immigrant families never had their day in court.
- 48.4% of in absentia deportation orders were against children, two-thirds of whom were age 6 and under.
The story of William, a 42-year-old father interviewed for the report, and his 6-year-old son highlights the confusion and unfairness permeating the Docket. The father and son, both unrepresented, were ordered removed for failing to show up in court, despite waiting 7 hours in the lobby of the court building on the day of their hearing. “I thought I was going to an ICE check-in,” said William, who was put on Los Angeles’ Dedicated Docket with his son. “When I arrived and showed them the paper I had, I was told to sit and wait. We sat on the floor and waited all day. Then someone came to me and asked me why I had missed my appointment. I didn’t understand.”
Ironically, the Biden administration uses ankle shackles and other forms of electronic monitoring which allow the government to know precisely where these families are located at all times, but nonetheless orders them deported when they fail to appear in court.
“If the Biden administration chooses to continue using Dedicated Dockets, it needs to take immediate action to address the lack of legal representation, the outsized number of in absentia removals orders, and the many other due process deficiencies we identify in our report,” said Talia Inlender, Deputy Director of the Center for Immigration Law and Policy and co-instructor of the Immigrants’ Rights Policy Clinic at UCLA School of Law. “Our research finds that the vast majority of families, including many young children, are facing an expedited court process without lawyers, that nearly every case completed in the first six months of the Docket resulted in a deportation order, that most of those families had no lawyer, and that the majority never even made it to court.”
The Biden Administration’s Dedicated Dockets: Inside Los Angeles’ Accelerated Court Hearings for Families Seeking Asylum, also sheds light on the disproportionate impact the Dedicated Docket is having on children: nearly half of the Docket in Los Angeles is made up of children; and a quarter of the children on the Docket are 6 years old and under. The report finds that 150 children–some less than a year old–were ordered deported in absentia, most without a lawyer.
“The results of our research confirm the worst fears of advocates who expressed concerns about the Biden administration’s Dedicated Dockets one year ago,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, Faculty Co-Director for the Center for Immigration Law and Policy at UCLA School of Law. “Through this Docket, the Biden Administration is not only denying families seeking asylum their day in court, but also punishing children, some less than a year old, by entering deportation orders that will follow them for the rest of their lives, leaving them vulnerable to deportation without ever receiving a day in court.”
“We have watched for months as asylum-seeking families in the community we serve are rushed through a court process that fails to give them the time or information they need to have a shot at a fair hearing on their asylum claims,” said Nina Rabin, Director of the Immigrant Family Legal Clinic at UCLA School of Law, who was interviewed for the report. “This report is a crucial effort to document an injustice happening every day, right here in Los Angeles, as well as in other immigration courts around the country. Dedicated Dockets have devastating consequences for asylum-seeking children and families.”
To read the report in its entirety, click here: The Biden Administration’s Dedicated Dockets: Inside Los Angeles’ Accelerated Court Hearings for Families Seeking Asylum.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION’S DEDICATED DOCKETS:
On May 28, 2021 the Biden administration announced that it would speed up the court proceedings of families seeking asylum by creating “Dedicated Dockets.”
Legal service providers in all 10 cities first designated for these dockets wrote a letter to Attorney General Garland, Secretary Mayorkas, and Susan Rice, opposing the creation of “Dedicated Dockets” because they “undermine due process for individuals seeking humanitarian protection and exacerbate dysfunctions within the immigration court system.”
Elected officials representing municipalities impacted by the May 28 announcement also wrote a letter to the Administration, asking them to immediately halt the use of Dedicated Dockets in their cities because the “dedicated docket program will further erode the due process of families seeking protection in the U.S.”
Founded in 2020, the Center for Immigration Law and Policy (CILP) at the UCLA School of Law expands the law school's role as a national leader in immigration law and policy, generating innovative ideas at the intersection of immigration scholarship and practice and serving as a hub for transforming those ideas into meaningful changes in immigration policy.