DOJ’s immigration review office suspends hearings

The Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review announced late Sunday that it will suspend hearings for non-detained aliens scheduled from March 16 through April 10 amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“All non-detained aliens’ master calendar hearings scheduled 03/16-04/10 are postponed,” the office tweeted.

“Usual operations for filings except Seattle,” it added. “All other hearings proceeding.”

The virus had previously suspended operations at several individual immigration courts, with one in Seattle temporarily closing its doors last week after a report of second-hand exposure to the virus, The Associated Press reported Friday. At the time, the Justice Department had said courts in Boston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Newark, N.J., and Sacramento, Calif., would remain open.

The delay will affect 68 immigration courts around the country and comes as the immigration courts already face a backlog of about 1 million cases.

The news also comes the week after the Trump administration reportedly ordered immigration courts not to post Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) flyers explaining procedures to prevent microbial contamination before reversing soon after.

“Per our leadership, the CDC flyer is not authorized for posting in the immigration courts. If you see one (attached), please remove it. Thank you,” acting Chief Immigration Judge Christopher Santoro reportedly wrote in an email to judges and staff.

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