The U.S. Supreme Court knows what “due process” is. In fact, it has carefully defined it, as noted by the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) in a report given to the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship just weeks ago. “The fundamental requirements [for due process],” the POGO report said, include “notice of the government’s proposed action, … a fair hearing before an impartial decision-maker, [and] the right to present evidence and confront charges.”
A broad and intense investigation of Federal Immigration Courts in 11 cities during a 10-day period of late Fall 2019 by a team of journalists from the Associated Press revealed that the mechanics of legal notification frequently broke down, leaving judges, courts, interpreters, defendants and lawyers absent or unprepared for the cases docketed for them.
This means that applicants for legal immigration or asylum often do not get to present evidence or confront accusers; hearings are often much less than “fair” and the impartiality of decision-makers is often not even a plausible fiction. After all, there are immigration judges who reject claims 99% of the time, while other approve asylum or legal immigration 90% of the time.
Maybe this is just the luck of the draw, how cases fall, but just maybe, these well-documented judicial records are evidence of jurists with strong biases for or against the migrant defendants and a system that couldn’t care less.
By the way, if you’re wondering, the U.S. Constitution states that defendants facing removal from the country are entitled to due process.
Amy Taxin is a Southern California-based reporter specializing in immigration issues for the Associated Press (AP).