Immigrants who get caught overstaying their visas often spend a significant time in detention facilities due to the U.S.’s backlog of at least 750,000 immigration cases on its dockets. Adjudication usually takes a long time because there are unique court rules and laws that this independent judiciary follows that slow down these processes.
You may find it helpful to understand some of those dynamics.
Can the public attend immigration court proceedings?
Immigration proceedings are open to the public, just like most civil and criminal court proceedings. There’s very little chance of an immigration judge allowing cameras in the courtroom as an increasing number of civil and criminal judges have in some jurisdictions in recent years, though.
How accessible are immigration court records?
It’s relatively easy to search civil or criminal court records online to see how parties end up settling cases. Anyone looking to find out what happened in an immigration case must visit the immigration court in person and search through printed records since Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials don’t publicize their detainees’ names. Federal immigration officials do generally label an immigrant’s paper case file with their name and country of origin, though.
Charges an immigrant is facing aren’t easy to come across
You should know that it can also be challenging to determine what charges an immigrant faces, even if you locate their case records. Immigration officials litigating the case don’t place a listing of alleged offenses in an immigrant’s file.
Immigrants have no right to a public defender
Federal law affords anyone facing criminal charges a right to a public defender. Immigrants aren’t entitled to the same. The latter can privately hire an attorney to represent their interests at immigration court hearings, though.
Knowing how things work can give you some peace of mind
The worst part about immigration officials taking you into custody is not knowing what to expect next in the process. An immigration detention attorney can shed light on what happens at each stage as your San Diego case makes its way through this unique court system here in California or elsewhere in the U.S.