As communities across the country take drastic action to mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) calls on the Trump administration to take the following steps to protect the lives and due process rights of immigrants:
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should immediately cancel all check-in appointments; suspend all arrests and enforcement operations; and release as many people as possible by granting humanitarian parole, prioritizing individuals with health concerns or those most at risk should they become infected with the virus.
- The Executive Office for Immigration Review must close all immigration courts nationwide and postpone all hearings, except for urgent cases for detained immigrants who request to have their hearings telephonically.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must cancel all in-person interviews and postpone filing deadlines, acknowledging that individuals who are unable to work or who limit their movement in the community in order to protect public health will not be able to afford the fees or acquire the documentation needed to submit many immigration applications.
“NIJC’s team of legal professionals and network of pro bono attorneys provide counsel to thousands of immigrants every year. We recognize that many immigrants, who already have survived trauma or faced uncertainty and insecurity as they have navigated the punitive U.S. immigration system, now are likely to face significant additional financial and emotional stress while also balancing unexpected child care demands and health concerns,” said NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy. “We also are seriously concerned about the health and wellbeing of NIJC legal staff and colleagues who are committed to defending the rights of immigrants during this pandemic. The Homeland Security and Justice Departments must act urgently to protect all of our communities.”
NIJC sent letters today to the Chicago ICE Field Office and has signed on to the Protect All People national platform calling on ICE to take urgent steps to save the lives of immigrants in detention. Our demands also echo those issued in recent days by the National Association for Immigration Judges, American Immigration Lawyers Association and ICE Professionals Union.