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Thousands show up for fake immigration court dates

New York immigrants face dozens of worries on a daily basis. These worries are often compounded by what might feel like constant changes to immigration law and policy. However, these individuals generally try their very best to comply with orders and requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Unfortunately, ICE does not always have the best interests of immigrants at heart.

In Jan. 2019, thousands of immigrants across the United States showed up for court hearings. These individuals had all received Notices to Appear — NTAs — from ICE officials with the exact same court date. After many people traveled hours from their homes, they were given upsetting news — the court dates were all fake.

Some undocumented immigrants are eligible to receive a cancellation of removal if they have lived in the United States for 10 years without interruption. When these individuals receive an NTA, the clock is restarted for those 10 years, and ICE has long been aware of this. Officials used to routinely issue NTAs without court dates in order to interrupt that 10-year clock, but a 2018 Supreme Court ruling barred the practice.

However, ICE officials did not fully stop this practice. Although they were unable to access the court’s schedule, officials with ICE used made-up dates on their NTAs. For reasons that are still not clear, a specific Jan. 2019 date was particularly popular, which led to the recent mass confusion of immigrants showing up for court hearings that had never been scheduled.

Dealing with these types of issues can be extremely frustrating. Immigration law is confusing and may feel as if it is growing more convoluted by the day, with some officials using seemingly shady practices to intimidate individuals. For these reasons, immigrants in New York may want to consider working with an experienced attorney who can help them sort through these issues.


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