Eloy Detainees Appearing In Tucson Immigration Court Via Video Conference

Published: Friday, February 22, 2019 - 4:12pm
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Matthew Casey/KJZZ
Attorney Ray Ybarra Maldonado

Undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers held at a private detention facility in Eloy have started appearing via video conference before an immigration judge nearly 60 miles away in Tucson, instead of the immigration court right next door.

The Tucson Immigration Court now controls all immigration proceedings for people held at the La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, according to a spokesperson for the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Video-conferencing between La Palma and the court in Tucson started Feb. 1. And the practice aims to improve efficiency in a court system with a growing backlog approaching one million cases.

But the American Immigration Lawyers Association, or AILA, has said video conferencing can violate due process for people facing deportation.

“I think that’s accurate to say that the purpose behind the video conferencing is to expedite the deportations of people,” said attorney Ray Ybarra Maldonado, a member of AILA.

Ybarra Maldonado said if detainees are not treated fairly, there will be a federal lawsuit, like one recently filed in New York, challenging the use of video conferencing.

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