In the Spring of 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the creation of a “dedicated docket” to expedite the processing of certain immigration cases. The cases that fall within this particular docket include families who arrived at the Southwest Border after May 28, 2021. These family units were allowed temporary entry into the United States in order to pursue asylum claims. DHS and DOJ have issued a directive to immigration courts across the country, including the San Francisco Immigration Court, to adjudicate the asylum cases on the dedicated docket within 300 days of an individual’s first court date.
San Francisco Immigration Court is processing thousands of cases for recent asylum seekers at an expedited pace. The expedited processing is making it particularly challenging for these families, all of whom are recent arrivals, to locate and hire attorneys. As a result, the majority of the families are forced to proceed alone and without counsel in complicated, legally nuanced, and burdensome asylum proceedings.
Students in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic have provided various forms of advocacy for individuals on the dedicated docket. Students have served as pro bono attorneys, created pro se guides, and submitted FOIA requests to government agencies to learn more about the dedicated docket.
Dedicated Docket Pro Se Guide
The Stanford Law School Immigrants’ Rights Clinic is pleased to announce the release of a new pro se guide for individuals on the Dedicated Docket. The guide is the first of its kind to provide an overview and description of the Dedicated Docket and advice regarding how one may assert their rights while on this fast-paced docket. This guide was specifically prepared for those in proceedings in the San Francisco Immigration Court, but we believe that it may be helpful for others on the Dedicated Docket in other jurisdictions.
The guide, created and written by law students under the supervision of Lisa Weissman-Ward and Jayashri Srikantiah, was produced on behalf of the Justice & Diversity Center of the Bar Association of San Francisco. The guides, available in English and Spanish, can be found here:
FOIA Requests and Complaint
The Immigrants' Rights Clinic is also engaged in Freedom of Information Acts (FOIA) work relating to the dedicated docket. We have filed FOIA requests with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), requesting various documents from these agencies to learn more about the dedicated docket.
On December 15, 2022, the clinic filed a FOIA complaint against DHS (ICE & CBP) in the Northern District of California. The original FOIA requests to EOIR, DHS-ICE and DHS-CBP as well as the the pending FOIA complaint filed against DHS-ICE and DHS-CBP can be found here:
Students in the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic served as volunteer attorneys for the Pro Bono Attorney of the Day program in San Francisco Immigration Court, coordinated by The Bar Association of San Francisco, Justice & Diversity Center. The program allows volunteer attorneys to assist unrepresented individuals and families at their preliminary hearings (known as Master Calendar Hearings). Students worked specifically with individuals and families on the dedicated docket. Students conducted legal intakes for individuals and families to learn about their case and advise on how to advocate for additional time to locate an attorney. Students also advised the families about their rights and responsibilities in the immigration court process. Finally, students had the opportunity to represent them at their hearing before the Immigration Judge.