An immigration court in New York has begun what it is calling “surge docket” proceedings for unaccompanied minors. The court, which typically sees less than 100 minor cases per month, is now taking on around at least 30 cases per day. The surge docket hearings are an initiative of the federal government to help expedite the legal proceedings for the recent surge in unaccompanied minors in the U.S.
Advocates of many legal aid and immigration organizations, such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) and Catholic Charities, have been stepping up to help represent the minors and handle the large case load. These organizations, which have previously handled one docket per month per organization, will now handle the approximately 30 cases per day through at least the end of August. This week, AILA will take on two surge dockets, which includes 65 new cases in just one day.
More than 57,000 minors have been processed in the immigration court system since last October, with approximately 3,500 crossing the border in recent months. The majority of these children come from Central American countries where gang violence and other crimes are widespread, and children are often targeted.
It is unknown at this point whether the surge docket proceedings will be necessary or implemented in other states.