An unprecedented group of immigration prosecutors, lawyers, and judges are calling for courts to be closed

An unprecedented group of immigration prosecutors, lawyers, and judges are calling for courts to be closed

Excerpted from BuzzFeed News by Hamed Aleaziz

The union representing Immigration and Customs Enforcement prosecutors joined immigration judges and lawyers in calling for the immediate shutdown of courts across the country to curb the spread of the coronavirus, an unprecedented alliance that signals the deep anxiety that has spread through all facets of the US immigration system.

“These are not normal times,” Fanny Behar Ostrow, president of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) Local 511, which represents ICE prosecutors, told BuzzFeed News. “This is a real crisis. We all have the same interests and the same concerns.” Ostrow is an ICE prosecutor in Miami.

They’re calling for the closure to last 2-4 weeks.

The unified statement comes days after the Executive Office for Immigration Review, housed within the Department of Justice, shut down a court in Seattle and canceled some hearings in Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, and elsewhere. The three groups — the ICE prosecutors, the National Association of Immigration Judges, and American Immigration Lawyers Association — said the Department of Justice had not adequately addressed the public health emergency.

“The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) current response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its spread is insufficient and not premised on transparent scientific information,” the groups said in a statement Sunday. “The DOJ is failing to meet its obligations to ensure a safe and healthy environment within our Immigration Courts.”

Though the virus originated in China, it has become a global pandemic. The virus has been spreading within US communities for weeks, leading to large conferences, concerts, and other events being canceled; widespread school closures; and quarantines of entire communities. California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the closure of bars and breweries across the state Sunday.

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