Yes, We’re Open!
As we all prepare to hunker down at home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, I want to assure all of our clients that our office is up and running, doing whatever we can to protect our clients’ interests during this unprecedented time. We are taking the same steps that everyone should be taking right now to protect ourselves and the people that we care about. That includes working from home as much as possible. Fortunately, we have many tools at our disposal to serve our clients even when we are away from the office. In fact, we spent the day yesterday reaching out by email and telephone to those clients and their families who will be most affected by coronavirus closures.
I want to share with all of you our plan for getting through this crisis with as little disruption as possible:
- We are most concerned about our detained clients. These are the clients who are most adversely affected by court closures. Some of them are detained by ICE waiting for an immigration court hearing. Others are in a county prison awaiting a criminal trial. Still others have cases pending in both immigration court and criminal court. These cases are high priority. If we can get anyone out of detention, we want to do so as soon as possible.
- We will continue to represent immigration clients at bond redetermination hearings for as long as the York Immigration Court remains operational. That court has systems already in place to hold bond and other hearings with minimal in-person contact. These systems include video hearings, telephonic appearances by attorneys, and electronic filings. Therefore, we have every reason to believe that they will proceed as scheduled.
- We will seek bail reductions for clients awaiting trial in criminal courts. These clients are at risk of long delays and prolonged incarceration. Trials that are already scheduled will be postponed. We join our colleagues in the criminal defense bar who are advocating the release of individuals who are likely facing long pre-trial incarceration.
- We will continue to work on all cases not affected by court closures. These include immigrant and non-immigrant petitions, naturalization applications, post-conviction petitions, and criminal appeals. As of today, all USCIS offices remain open and are accepting applications. We do not know how long that will last. If USCIS closes, processing times will become even longer once USCIS reopens and faces an even greater backlog of applications. For those petitions that involve priority dates, it is especially important to file as soon as possible.
- We will continue to accept new clients. We will conduct all consultations by Skype or telephone and we utilize a secure file sharing system to allow clients to upload their documents from home. We understand that many of our clients are out of work and suffering financially, so we will offer reduced fees and flexible payment plans.
If you have any questions about how the coronavirus may impact your case, please do not hesitate to contact us.