Update on EOIR policy

The following is a guest post by HRI Legal Director Chris Mansour

UPDATE:  Immigration Advocates Successfully Convince EOIR To Keep Immigration Case Hotline Easy to Access.

At the end of August, HRI joined 86 other advocacy organizations and more than 275 individual attorneys and representatives in a letter to Acting Director Thomas Snow of the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) protesting a proposed change to EOIR’s telephonic case information system (see here). HRI is pleased to report that EOIR has heard the practitioners’ concerns and decided not to implement the change.

EOIR’s  automated “hotline” allows immigrants in removal proceedings to call in with their Alien Registration Number (typically called an “A#”) and find out the status of their case, including the next scheduled hearing, the judge’s name, case processing information and the results of prior proceedings. Because paper forms often get lost, the hotline is usually the best way for immigrants and their representatives to determine case status.  The proposed change would have required that immigrants have the date of the “charging document” in order to access the system and get any of their case information. EOIR cited increased security concerns as the reason for this new requirement.

HRI and other agencies were troubled about this planned requirement because often clients and potential clients do not have a copy of the charging document. If the changes to the hotline had been implemented, these people would have been unable to find out if and when they needed to appear in court, or if a final order had been entered against them.

After listening to the hotline users’ concerns, EOIR announced that it would not implement this change:

After internal review and further consideration, EOIR has reexamined the security features projected for phase two. EOIR has determined that the security considerations could be resolved operationally without the need for additional user requirements. Specifically, this will be done by enhancing EOIR’s internal administrative and physical controls to prevent unauthorized access and disclosure of information through the telephone system.

This is the correct result. Immigrants’ case information needs to be protected, but easily accessible to the individual. In addition, this is an excellent example of the government listening to the concerns of users and practitioners.

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