EXCLUSIVE: Federal Immigration Court Info System Crashes

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The federal immigration court information system crashed and forced the rescheduling of cases across the country on Thursday.

Emails obtained by The Dallas Express from the American Immigration Lawyers Association and posts on social media indicate that immigration courts were unable to access records for hours due to the crash, meaning that many cases were forced to be rescheduled.

Immigration courts use the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) Courts & Appeals System (ECAS).

This system was first introduced in 2018 in an attempt to cut down on paper filings and help store previous case information online. 

According to the DOJ’s website, the system has been “fully implemented at all immigration courts and adjudication centers and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA),” which means that all systems across the country were affected by the crash of the ECAS.

In addition to immigration courts being unable to access records, 1-800 numbers used by immigrants and attorneys to learn about their cases were reportedly down.

Stefania Ramos Birch, an immigration attorney in the state of Washington, spoke with The Dallas Express about the issue and said that the system crash impacted all courts across the country.

Birch said that those working with immigration cases “can’t do anything without the system working,” and anyone who had a scheduled hearing on Thursday morning was still required to arrive on time for their hearings.

After waiting for the system to come back online, those who arrived for a scheduled hearing in Seattle were reportedly told around 9:30 a.m. that they would be allowed to leave and the hearing would be rescheduled for another day.

Birch explained that failing to show up to a scheduled hearing could result in deportation, meaning that arriving on time to the court is incredibly important for those hoping to remain in the U.S.

However, the crash resulted in those with open cases being unable to learn about the details of their case and whether it would be rescheduled to a later time until the system came back online.

Despite having the capability, Birch told The Dallas Express that the government made no attempt to communicate with stakeholders about the ongoing system failure.

Indeed, Kansas immigration litigator Matthew Hoppock commented on the lack of communication from the DOJ regarding the outage on X:

The DOJ’s outage log was finally updated to reflect the crash at 2:20 p.m. According to the log, the system crashed at 8:45 a.m. and came back online at 2 p.m. A notice from the DOJ announcing the crash was posted to X at 4:42 p.m., with the agency noting that it would reschedule the day’s disrupted hearings.

It is unclear how far into the future the rescheduled hearings will be set.

The Dallas Express reached out to the EOIR and BIA for comment but had not received a response by the time of publishing.

Note: This article was updated on March 21, 2024, at 5:57 p.m. to include additional information.

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