King And Zeldin Push For New Immigration Court On Long Island

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The creation of a new immigration court on Long Island has been requested by two local congressmen and is apparently aimed at curbing the growing immigration case backlog, as well as addressing gang violence.

Congressmen Lee Zeldin and Peter King wrote to James McHenry, the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) on Tuesday, May 8, requesting for at least one of the newly proposed courts to be located in Nassau or Suffolk.

In responding to President Trump’s 2019 budget request last month, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced their intent to open 75 new immigration courtrooms in 2018 to reduce the backlog of pending immigration cases.

“According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), Suffolk and Nassau County rank in the top 10 among all counties in the nation for pending cases before the Immigration Court, with 23,178 cases as of December 31, 2017,” the letter read.

As has been widely reported, the White House’s ongoing attack on immigrants has caused chaos in immigration courts across the country, including by sending New York judges down to the southern border, depriving New York of much needed resources. Currently, the backlog is nearing 685,000 cases and processing times have doubled since 2009, now averaging 561 days, according to Roll Call.

For Trump and the mass deportation agenda, the backlog is severely slowing down the machinery that deports immigrants.

“The backlog is stymieing Trump. Many of the immigrants he wants to remove — including asylum-seeking mothers and children like those in the caravans he’s criticized on Twitter — cannot be sent home until they’ve had a day in court. Asylum cases, in particular, can take more than a year to adjudicate,” Roll Call writes.

Amidst the backdrop of Nassau and Suffolk’s police departments cooperating so intimately with ICE, the addition of a new immigration court on Long Island could fit too neatly into the local engine of mass deportation and further inflame fear and distrust of our criminal justice system.

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Jano Tantongco is the online editor of Long Island Wins. He's previously worked in community journalism as a staff reporter for The Long Islander and The Queens Courier. He aims to pursue truth through a combination of rational inquiry and intuition. He also enjoys bossa nova, road trips and zen philosophy.

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