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Jul 10, 2019

Trump Administration Plans to Replace Immigration Court Interpreters with Informational Videos

Stephen Antwine

The Trump Administration is preparing to end in-court interpreters for initial Immigration Court hearings. While the Immigration Court typically provides in-person or telephonic interpretation for all court hearings, the Trump Administration is planning to end the practice in the coming weeks. In its place, immigrants in initial Immigration Court proceedings will be shown a recorded video in multiple languages explaining their rights and the court process.

Many immigrants are unrepresented at their initial hearings, and rely on the Immigration Judge, through the court interpreter, to advise them of their rights and respond to questions about the process.  The federal government does not provide attorney representation for immigrants directed to Immigration Court proceedings.  The court interpreters provide an important function in the courtroom and help facilitate a dialogue between immigrants and the Immigration Judges.

The Trump Administration is presenting this program as a cost-cutting measure which will help eliminate a growing backlog of Immigration Court cases.  Unfortunately, the program will likely add to confusion over the legal process, making the system less efficient. 

Immigrants without representation will now face another hurdle within the Immigration Courts, threatening the integrity of the system by failing to provide safeguards for due process.The risk of no direct communication with the court will result in individuals failing to understand their rights and obligations.  The Immigration Court is likely to see an increase in the number of immigrants failing to appear for hearings and failing to meet filing deadlines for applications for relief which will further prejudice immigrants in this process.

Should you require representation at an Immigration Court hearing, please contact Stephen Antwine, Esq. at Green & Spiegel, LLC for assistance.

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