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NY1: Long Lines and Hearing Delays Reflect a Broken Immigration System for Asylum Seekers

NYLAG’s Jodi Ziesemer spoke to NY1 about how asylum seekers are being impacted by delays and dysfunction in the immigration system, including unfair deportation orders and court appointments being scheduled as far as a decade from now.

Immigrants in NYC are being unfairly denied access to immigration court, leading them to miss hearings and then being ordered deported.

“‘We’ve seen this really over the last year but it’s been marked over the last three or four months,’ said Jodi Ziesemer, director of the immigrant protection unit at the New York Legal Assistance Group.”

“A few months ago, Rosalina is from Honduras, said she waited for her court appointment with her son but couldn’t get into the building.

“She said she then got a letter that an immigration judge ordered her deported, too.

‘I felt distressed because my children are here with me, so I don’t know, I felt sad,’ she said, through an interpreter. ‘It’s chaos, getting a deportation letter. One feels sad because it’s not easy to leave and leave your children here.’

“Rosalina, and anyone else in that situation, can file a motion to get their case reopened. She did that and it worked.

“Immigration lawyers who have spoken with NY1 said for the most part, the judges have been understanding. However, they said they still have concerns that this has been happening in the first place.

“‘We’ve seen it take many months just to get back to square one,’ said Ziesemer.”

Watch the original piece from Eric Feldman on NY1 from May 18, 2023.

To make matters worse, migrants with legitimate asylum claims are being lost in time. Many are being scheduled to be seen by federal officials as far as nine years from now. This leaves tens of thousands of migrants vulnerable with no way to get documents or lawful employment. 

“Jodi Ziesemer showed NY1 paperwork for one of her clients, set to meet with ICE in 2032. 

“’We have in our constitution the right to a speedy trial,’ she said. 

This is not a one off. Other immigration lawyers like Lauren Wyatt have seen ICE appointments in 2032. 

“’I don’t know how you could possibly keep remember that you have to attend an appointment nine years from now,’ she said. ‘You don’t even know where you’ll be living nine years from now.’ 

“26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan is the federal facility where migrants in New York City go to check in with ICE. 

“Last year, the lines got so long, federal officials created an online system so migrants could set up appointments online. 

“But there’s a problem. 

“’I tried to check in online but I saw the near date was available slot was 2029 November,’ one man said, who crossed the southern border after fleeing Russia, told NY1.”  

Watch the original piece from Eric Feldman on NY1 from May 31, 2023. 

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