The Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the Department of Justice immigration courts, informed judges of the Trump administration’s decision to eliminate in-person translation for initial deportation hearings, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Instead, immigrants appearing for initial deportation hearings will receive a video instruction with subtitles to explain the courtroom proceedings, their rights, obligations and answer other frequently asked questions.
The new procedures will begin the week of July 15 in New York and Miami with a video in Spanish, and roll-out to other cities and other languages, with a goal to increase efficiency. The announcement was sent to judges via email and met with pushback by immigration judges — including three that responded in messages sent to all court staffers:
“I think the entire premise of this plan is wrongheaded,” one judge wrote. “It will be disruptive to my court and definitely will not be a time saver.”
Stuart Karden, an immigration judge in Orlando, said:
“This will take much, much longer than it does now as I’m able to go very quickly using a simultaneous translation with an in-person interpreter. That seems like a total waste of time.”
The Justice Department says the change will increase efficiency and reduce costs related to the budget and the contract with the primary interpreter provider. The administration has been looking for other cost-saving measures including an interpreter telephone service. With over 1 million cases per year in immigration courts, some of the changes to make the process faster and more efficient are actually making the process more confusing, subject to lengthy appeals, and ignoring due process.
The National Association of Immigration Judges’ union President Ashley Tabaddor said: “the Justice Department had not given enough notice for the union to raise objections or provide input on the change.”
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