While Massachusetts trial courts have been closed to the public for weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal Boston Immigration Court has mostly remained open — even though an attorney whose family member tested positive for the illness visited one of the courtrooms last week.
Susan Church, an immigration attorney with Demisse and Church, told Jim Braude on WGBH News’ Greater Boston Monday that the court closed for cleaning Friday but quickly reopened Monday morning.
“All they care about is harming and hurting immigrants at any cost, including the cost of the health of our judges and court officers and everybody else who has to go in and out of those courtrooms,” she said, referring to the federal immigration system.
Immigration hearings for those who have not been detained are suspended, while the court remains open for those who are currently detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Church, who is now in self-quarantine, also said non-immigration federal courts are taking a much better approach at dealing with ongoing legal proceedings.
“They are working with the public defender program, they’re releasing people that they can release, they’re holding video hearings so that the cases that have to go forward go forward," she said. "But the immigration court is just the deportation machine that has to roll on at all costs."
Church further explained that last week, her clients had to appear in court personally and one of her witnesses even took public transportation to get home. This was after they sat next to Church, who may have been a carrier of the virus at the time.
“It’s unfathomable … The courts do not need to remain open except for the people who need to get out of detention,” she said.