Far from the debate over immigration on the campaign trail, the reality of U.S. policy plays out in immigration courthouses, where lawyers can be hard to come by, detention without a hearing is the norm and the judge you’re assigned can be the difference between deportation or a right to stay.
Statistics show the whether or not an immigrant is detained during their case, and whether or not they have a lawyer, have enormous bearing on outcomes in immigration court. New York City is leading an effort to make the system more just.
The courtrooms where immigration justice plays out in and near New York City are where overtaxed lawyers, desperate families and shackled inmates bear the human weight of a broken system.
In hearings for those seeking asylum, claims of persecution must be evaluated by judges and ICE with little evidence to go on, and a byzantine system of laws to guide the way.
Applying an antiquated law, often with little evidence to go on, immigration judges must determine not whether or not someone is afraid to go back home, but whether their fear fits into the framework of U.S. asylum policy.