John Oliver Examined Immigration Courts on “Last Week Tonight” (HBO)

John Oliver Examined Immigration Courts on “Last Week Tonight” (HBO)

On Sunday, April 1, 2018, John Oliver examined the dysfunction in America’s immigration courts on “Last Week Tonight” (HBO).  The country’s 60 or so immigration courts are not independent courts, but are governed by the Department of Justice.  Immigrants appear before appointed immigration judges to argue their right to stay in the country, and to seek forms of relief, such as asylum. The volume of immigration court cases has doubled since 2009—as Oliver notes, more than 600,000 cases have piled up, leading to wait times of up to five years, rushed hearings, and denials of due process.  There is also no guarantee of an attorney in immigration court, and only 37 percent of all immigrants obtain legal representation in their cases. As Oliver shows, this leads to the absurd result of having children as young as two or three years old sit before immigration judges and “argue” their cases.  Mixing humor with his critique, the segment highlights that the immigration courts need to be independent and access to counsel needs to be expanded to ensure that immigrants, including young children, get a full and fair opportunity to present their cases.

Watch the clip here.

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