Did you know that 85% of the more than 24,000 asylum-seeking families ordered deported from July 2014 to November 2016 received in absentia orders? This means that more than 21,000 families never had a chance to present their case in court.
The Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP) and CLINIC have released a new report, “Denied a Day in Court: The Government’s Use of In Absentia Removal Orders Against Families Seeking Asylum,” which discusses the obstacles families face in attending their immigration court hearings and explains how the immigration system fails families seeking asylum.
Immigration judges issue in absentia orders when an individual is not present for a scheduled immigration court hearing. There are many reasons why individuals are unable to attend their hearings: the government’s failure to provide sufficient notice of the hearing, health and transportation issues, confusion between immigration court hearings and ICE check-ins, and more. Immigration judges found these reasons to be sufficiently compelling to reverse in absentia deportation orders more than 96% of the time in over 40 cases prepared by ASAP and CLINIC nationwide. Denied a Day in Court shares lessons from these cases and explains what the government can do to ensure that future families have their day in court. Thousands more families would still be fighting their asylum cases if they had not received wrongful in absentia orders of their own.
For an in-depth look at how the government’s in absentia deportation pipeline functions, read our full report, which includes an analysis of government data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests and a breakdown of policy recommendations for how Congress and the Executive Branch can address these issues.