Connecticut residents held in ICE detention suddenly have hearings scheduled hours away in Boston immigration court, rather than in Hartford. Immigration lawyers and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut want answers.
Blumenthal wrote a letter this week asking the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, to justify the change.
“We’ve received no response. One of the really disgraceful aspects of the ICE procedure here is they’ve refused to provide any information”
Michelle Ross leads the Connecticut chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Ross says the immigration court administrator notified her of the change, but gave no explanation that she could use to ask for a change in venue. She says fewer attorneys will be able to take on the travel burden to represent these immigrants in detention.
“Its always been difficult, there’s always been a gap in representation for immigrants in court, but this certainly just exacerbates that.”
Ross says even if immigrants find help in Massachusetts, those lawyers would still have to travel back and forth to Connecticut to reach family members and finish paperwork.
ICE spokesman Shawn Neudauer says Hartford Immigration Court hears about 7,000 cases a year, and they officially moved about 20 to Boston. Neudauer says it was to align case management resources under one office in Boston, which has better facilities and more personnel. He says less than 8 percent of immigrants in removal proceedings are detained.