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Attorneys reported that the border “tent courts” are not fully open to the public.

Unlike other immigration courts, the makeshift courts in Texas were closed to the public, including human rights observers and attorneys not representing a client. Recently, the U.S. government agreed to open up the courts. However, attorneys and advocates are saying that not all proceedings have actually been made public. They complained that the Trump administration is adjudicating individual merits hearings for asylum seekers inside the Fort Worth Immigration Adjudication Center, which is closed to the public. Senior Policy Counsel at the American Immigration Lawyers Association called this practice “clearly intentional…The agency is trying to operate these cases in secret.” The practice is particularly concerning because most asylum seekers in these hearings are not represented by an attorney.

More immigration judges will be assigned to adjudicate asylum cases at the border.

More judges will conduct asylum hearings via teleconferencing. The newest expansion has judges assigned to an adjudication center in Fort Worth, Texas. Like the tent facilities, this is closed to the public, making lawyers concerned about the transparency of the process. Access to the tent courts is closed generally,  but CBP stated that it will be “assessed on a case-by-case basis when operationally feasible.”

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