ACLU report raises concerns about Iowa-Nebraska immigration proceedings

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The ACLU has released a report that paints a stark picture of people’s experiences in the Omaha immigration court that oversees cases of people living in Iowa and Nebraska and compromising people’s right to due process.

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The Omaha immigration court is known as one of the nation’s toughest such courts for asylum seekers.

You can view the report in full here.

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The report was released last week with a Zoom press conference, which was conducted in English and Spanish. You can view that press conference here.

Key findings include:

  • The project focused on crucial pretrial hearings. There are several technical matters that must be discussed during these hearings. Yet the average ran under four minutes.
  • Judges advised people of their rights in only 18 percent of the observed hearings. Most often, this involved reading rights to everyone in a group instead of individually.
  • Immigration courts are required to provide interpretation in the preferred language of the individual appearing at a hearing at no cost to the individual. The court frequently failed to provide Central American Indigenous language interpretation. This impacted roughly four out of five individuals who preferred to speak in a Central American Indigenous language.
  • In about one in five observed hearings, the individual was not represented by an attorney.
  • About 40 percent of the removal proceedings in the court involve individuals living in Iowa. Also, According to the nonprofit Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, there have been more than 2,600 new removal proceedings (commonly referred to as “deportation proceedings”) filed in the Omaha immigration court against individuals living in Iowa this fiscal year.

For more information, or if you would like to do an interview in Spanish, please contact Veronica Fowler at [email protected] or at 515-451-1777 or Cindy Garcia at [email protected] or 515-259-1141.

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