The Immigration Courts are secretly issuing a series of “standing orders” describing their process for handling the coronavirus. Unfortunately, nobody at EOIR is actually announcing these in any formal way. Some are being added periodically to page 234 of the Immigration Court practice manual, but not all of them. And some of the orders listed there seem to have since been superseded by new orders. Most of the new orders don’t say whether they supersede the prior orders.
These orders in some cases severely limit the rights of immigrants and their attorneys to object to evidence if appearing by phone (forcing attorneys to travel to the Immigration Courts despite their cities being on lockdown and the real risk of catching COVID-19). But it’s not even clear which ones apply and which ones don’t.
Below, I am posting all the Standing Orders that I’ve found by running a google search. The Immigration Court practice manual is supposed to contain all standing orders, but it doesn’t. It has gotten updated several times this week with some of these orders, but some of the orders in the manual are outdated and some of the orders the courts have issued aren’t in the manual at all.
- Tacoma, Washington – March 20, 2020 standing order.
- Adelanto, California – March 25, 2020 standing order which says it “supersedes” the previous order dated March 19. As of today the Immigration Court Practice Manual only includes the March 19 order which apparently has now been superseded.
- San Antonio, Texas – March 19, 2020 standing order for the main Immigration Court in San Antonio.
- San Antonio Annex Court – March 19, 2020 standing order for San Antonio Annex (the court at 106 S. St. Mary’s Street). This one is also not in the practice manual, a week after it supposedly went into effect.
- Stewart, Georgia (Lumpkin) – Undated standing order.
- Boston, Massachussets – March 23, 2020 standing order.
- Buffalo, New York – March 24, 2020 standing order for the Buffalo Immigration Court. But the pdf online is labeled as “York Immigration Court Standing Order 3-17-2020.pdf”
- Los Fresnos, Texas (Port Isabel) – March 24, 2020 standing order for the Los Fresnos, Texas Immigration Court. Notice that there was a March 23 standing order in the practice manual yesterday, but there’s no order at all for Los Fresnos in the practice manual today. Here’s a direct link to the March 23 order that seems to have been superseded by the March 24 order. However, in that neither of them is in the practice manual today, it’s not possible to know for sure.
- Conroe, Texas – March 24, 2020 standing order.
- Batavia, New York – March 24, 2020 standing order. Note that the The March 19, 2020 version seems to have been taken offline, but it’s in yesterday’s version of the practice manual. Notice that like the Buffalo standing order, the pdf online is labeled as “York Immigration Court Standing Order 3-17-2020.pdf”
- Pearsall, Texas – March 19, 2020 standing order.
- Cleveland, Ohio – Undated standing order.
- Harlingen, Texas – March 23, 2020 standing order.
- Atlanta, Georgia (Ted Turner Drive) – Undated standing order.
- Kansas City, Missouri – March 25, 2020 standing order.
- New York City (Varick Street) – March 21, 2020 standing order.
- Tucson, Arizona- March 24, 2020 standing order. There was a prior March 18 standing order. The most recent one doesn’t say it supersedes the prior one, so your guess is as good as mine.
- Elizabeth, New Jersey – March 19, 2020 standing order.
- Dallas, Texas – March 24, 2020 standing order.
- Arlington, Virginia – March 24, 2020 standing order.
- Florence, Arizona – March 23, 2020 standing order.
- Eloy, Arizona – March 18, 2020 standing order. This one is also not in the Immigration Court Practice Manual. Update: this was added to the practice manual on March 25.
- Hartford, Connecticut – March 18, 2020 standing order.
- Chicago, Illinois – March 19, 2020 standing order.
- El Paso – Undated standing order (first posted online on March 25, 2020)
- LaSalle – March 25 standing order (note, I couldn’t find a direct link to this one, but it was added to the practice manual March 25).
- Las Vegas – undated standing order (note, I couldn’t find a direct link to this one, but it was added to the practice manual March 25).
- North Los Angeles (Mesa Verde) – March 25 standing order.
- Orlando – March 25 standing order.
- Detroit – IJ Mark Jebson – March 26 standing order.
If I find more, I’ll post them here.
Some of these are extremely concerning. For example, a number of these orders say a person who opts to appear via telephone (to avoid getting sick or getting court staff sick) waives their right to object to evidence if the DHS files it the day of the hearing. Others say if the court cannot reach the attorney’s phone number after one try, that attorney is required to appear in-person at all future hearings, forever.
EOIR has an e-filing system called ECAS that would solve that problem, but they haven’t made it available for use in most courts. EOIR also has fax machines and e-mail, but none of those can be used for filings.