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Long Island News

Lawsuit Claims Videoconferences Speed Deportations At The Cost of Due Process

Tiziana Rinaldi
Public Radio International
The entrance to the Varick Street Immigration Court in Manhattan.

In June, Immigration and Customs Enforcement stopped transporting detainees from the jails on Long Island and downstate New York to the immigration court in lower Manhattan. Instead, detainees used videoconferences.

The agency cited safety concerns, but lawyers for immigrants have filed a lawsuit that contends ICE is purposefully trying to expedite deportations at the expense of due process. The lawsuit says not having their clients physically in the courtroom makes it harder to get a fair hearing.

“The audio is a lot worse, you can’t see things as clearly, and you can’t necessarily turn to your attorney who might be next to you in court,” Brooke Menschel, a civil rights lawyer for Brooklyn Defender Services said.

The lawsuit cites a report prepared for the Justice Department recommending that videoconferences be limited to procedural matters only. The court that uses the video-only policy processed 159 deportations last year.

ICE declined comment citing ongoing litigation.