Immigration Legal Groups Seek Emergency Restraining Order Against Feds

Published: Wednesday, April 8, 2020 - 3:40pm
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Legal groups want a federal judge to call an emergency timeout on in-person immigration court hearings to protect people from the coronavirus.

The move is part of a recent lawsuit in which most of the detained plaintiffs are being held in Arizona.

If the judge agrees, Immigration and Customs Enforcement would have to set up a way so detainees can talk with their lawyers remotely and in private. The Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review would have to create a way for everyone involved in immigration court hearings to take part remotely.

“And so what we’re asking for is a 14-day halt,” said attorney Sirine Shebaya, executive director of the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild. “There is absolutely an urgency to this situation.”

At least two people held in Arizona have tested positive for COVID-19. Immigration courts in the state continue to hold hearings for those in federal custody. The court in Florence has closed, but Phoenix has taken over its caseload.

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