Last week, New Jersey immigration lawyers from the American Immigration Lawyers Association sued to continue teleconferencing for immigration hearings rather than move to in-person proceedings. The lawsuit was filed in light of rising COVID-19 rates nationwide, claiming that moving to in-person hearings would risk the lives of the attorneys and their clients.
The lawyers are demanding that courts utilize video conferencing technology for immigration hearings just as it has done for other federal and state proceedings. Video conferencing would also allow attorneys to share documents with the court, which is not physically safe in current conditions.
“The Newark Immigration Court is no stranger to the devastating effects of COVID-19,” the lawyers said in their filing. “The coronavirus spread through the court before it closed in March, and COVID-19 illnesses tragically caused the deaths of both a longtime private immigration attorney and a staffer at the immigration prosecutor’s office.”
AILA is asking the judge to stop in-person appearances until the coronavirus is no longer a life-threatening risk for the health of court staffers, lawyers, judges, and clients.