Published on:

Atlanta Immigration Court Judges Accused Of Discrimination in the Courtroom

gavel-1017953_640-300x200The Emory University School of Law is accusing the Atlanta Immigration Court of failing to uphold ethical standards, alleging that some of the court’s judges have exhibited hostility and discrimination towards immigrants.

In their allegations listed in a letter sent to Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the Emory University School of Law referred to several actions documented by the students during their 7-week observation, which includes distasteful remarks, unfounded allegations, and even open hostility towards immigrants in court. One judge reportedly accused immigrants of attempting to claim asylum after availing of medical care in the U.S.

Some of the alleged actions on the part of the immigration judges include the following:

  • The judges in question were reported to be aware of the fact that they were being observed. One judge compared immigrants to “maniacs in Halloween masks.” Noticing he was being observed, the judge reportedly offered to put in a “good word” should the observer apply for a court clerk position. He was also reported to have been suspicious of what ends the observations would be put to.
  • Judges were also reported to have made hurdles for both immigrants and their counsel. Obstacles like last minute and no-notice hearing cancellations effectively denied respondents’ access to court.
  • Moreover, some judges, despite Immigration Courts being open to the public, attempted to block observers from entering and observing hearings in their courtrooms. Their intentions for doing so may only be speculated.
  • Several judges were observed to have labeled and persistently addressed the detainees as “defendants,” treating them as criminal offenders despite the civil nature of immigration proceedings. This came in the form of requiring detainees to appear to Immigration Court in “colored jumpsuits, handcuffs, leg shackles, and chains around their waists,” as stated in the report.
  • One of the more serious findings includes the denial of adequate interpretation services for a number of immigrant detainees. At several points, non-English speakers were oblivious to their surroundings, what with their assigned interpreters being selective in their services.

These allegations, according to Emory Law Professor Hallie Ludsin, confirm the Immigration Court’s reputed blatant disregard for rule of law and its judges’ tendency toward unjust adjudication. These were later collated into a comprehensive report submitted to the EOIR, the bureau overseeing Immigration Courts in the U.S.

The EOIR has yet to comment on the matter or the allegations against the Atlanta Immigration Court.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a non-profit organization combating “hate, intolerance, and discrimination through education and litigation,” issued a press release last Tuesday recommending an immediate investigation and monitoring of the Immigration Court’s judges.

This is not the first time immigration courts have been under the spotlight. In Texas, a Del Rio courthouse came under fire for its aggressive prosecution strategy, rushing detained immigrants through the legal systems without fully knowing their rights.

If you, or a loved one, are facing unjust treatment in court, know your rights by talking to the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Contact our offices to schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.