EOIR Backs off a Bad Idea

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010
By: Jonathan MontagJ.D.

On August 30, 2010, the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the body that contains the immigration courts and Board of Immigration Appeals announced that it was changing the way people can access court information through their telephone number, 1-800-898-7180. The way it is done is by calling and entering an aliens identification number, their “Alien Number,: also called their “A-number.” Then you could hear about court dates for pending cases and outcomes in concluded cases. The implementation of the system years ago made things much simpler for immigration lawyers. People who come in to my office with an A-number often do not know about their court cases – quite often they do not even know they have or had one. Calling the number allows me to learn about the status of a person’s case and the magnitude of his or her problems. Just today someone came to my office with only an A-number and I used the system to find out about the person’s immigration situation.

The change announced was that to access information, in the future one would not only need to know the A-number, but also the date of issuance of a charging document. This was unfeasible because often an alien does not have it, having misplaced it or thrown it away, or sometimes never even received it. Without access to the information, it is difficult to properly evaluate many immigration cases.

Fortunately, today EOIR changed its mind about the change. The current 800-number system will not change.

Comically, soon after the change was announced on August 30, 2010, EOIR changed the speakers in the message scripts. The speakers in the messages changed from one to many. The former recording had one serious flaw; you could not tell the difference between the pronunciation of the words “25th” and “26th.” This could be a serious problem if you had court on one of those days and could not tell which. The new system sounds quite bizarre. There are many speaking roles. The voice changes mid-sentence at times. It is like when a kindergarten class is performing a play and every child gets a line to say. However, it is like a kindergarten in Canarsie or from the cast of “Goodfellas.” I say fix the 25th/26th problem , but as for the current the changes to the speaker, my advice to EOIR: “Fuhgeddaboudit.” Postet October 21, 2010.



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