Massachusetts State House.
Policy Library

Immigration Update

April 29, 2021

BBA Council Adopts Resolution on Immigration Court

The BBA Council endorsed a resolution aimed at addressing concerns among practitioners about practices at the Boston immigration court. It offers recommendations to strengthen the court’s COVID-19 protocols, as well as to improve communications between the court and attorneys who practice there, and to enhance efficiencies in the court’s handling of cases. The MBA and the American Immigration Law Association of New England have also adopted the resolution, and we hope this united front will prompt consideration of, and dialogue about, these recommendations.

New Policy on Immigration Enforcement in Courthouses

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) this week tasked Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) with developing new guidelines on enforcement by those agencies in and around courthouses. Such enforcement has been a major access-to-justice concern for the BBA, because it has a chilling effect on victims, witnesses, and others seeking justice. Indeed, we have been involved with litigation at the federal and state level challenging such actions. 

The interim DHS memo for the first time recognizes the impact on access to justice and calls for enforcement measures to be limited to certain circumstances. But we await further detail, in more-permanent policies, to assess how effectively the Biden Administration’s approach will curtail courthouse enforcement.

—Michael Avitzur
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association