According to UCLA, the majority of asylum cases processed by the Los Angeles dedicated docket lead to removal orders.
The handling of asylum applications is once again under scrutiny after the results of a study on irregularities in the Los Angeles Dedicated Docket carried out by the Immigrant’s Rights Policy Clinic, an institution that is part of the Center for Immigration Law and Policy of Los Angeles, were made public by the UCLA School of Law.
What is the function of the Dedicated Docket?
The Los Angeles “Dedicated Docket” program, promoted by the Biden administration, constitutes an express judicial channel to process family asylum cases in an expedited period of 300 days, compared to the average 4.5 years that this type of case entails.
The objective of the program is to guarantee not only due process for these cases but also that they receive fair and efficient treatment. However, an exhaustive investigation into the operation of the program has revealed serious irregularities that seriously harm the migrant families whose cases are processed through this means.
What did the UCLA report say about the effectiveness of the Dedicated Docket?
The results of the report shed light on the ways in which the system is failing to provide fair treatment to families seeking asylum. The lack of access to legal representation stands out as one of the largest issues since around 70% of the families that went through their processes did not have access to a lawyer.
Another relevant factor is linguistic: they are native speakers of other languages, in many cases Spanish, but also Creole or indigenous languages. Not having knowledge of English or outside assistance led to confusion such as not understanding the court summons. Likewise, those who attended the appointment with the judge did not always have interpreters and in some cases interpreters of the wrong language were provided.
The UCLA report also revealed that 99.1% of completed cases ended in deportation orders. Most of these orders were decreed in absentia, that is, the deportees were not in court to defend their case. In addition, half of the deportation orders correspond to children, whose cases were processed jointly with their families, despite the fact that the immigration system allows processing their applications separately.
The report constitutes a 15-page document that explains in detail the results found, but here we indicate the main statistics compiled by the researchers.
- 99.1% of cases processed in the LA Dedicated Docket resulted in deportation orders
- 70.1% of the families processed by this means did not have legal representation
- 72.4% of deportation orders were issued without the accused being present in court
- 48.4% of those deportation orders were for children, whose cases were processed alongside those of their parents or legal guardians and not separately
Spokespersons for the Immigrants’ Rights Policy Clinic expressed grave concern about the study’s results. The operation of the Dedicated Docket follows a pattern of perpetuating injustices against an extremely vulnerable group, causing irreversible harm, especially to young people children whose cases of asylum haven’t even been checked.
Against all purposes that this body supposedly tries to achieve, the procedures carried out are unfair, inefficient and irregular.
“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.
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