On September 22, 2020, the ACLU-NH filed a brief before the First Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Karen Elizabeth Rivera-Medrano, who had her due process rights violated during her immigration court proceedings.
It is well established that immigrants in removal proceedings have a statutory and constitutional right to due process during these proceedings. For example, Congress specifically required the Government to protect fundamental rights such as the right to seek counsel and the right to examine the evidence submitted by ICE during removal proceedings. In this case, Ms. Rivera-Medrano's rights were violated when the immigration judge failed to offer her a chance to adequately review the evidence to be used against her. Instead, the immigration judge allowed her to be ambushed with this new evidence during cross examination. Petitioner was 20 years old, detained, and unrepresented at the time of her final hearing. She was raped by her stepfather, which caused her to leave school and seek refuge in the United States. She lacks a high school degree. She does not speak or read English. Faced with these obstacles, the immigration judge allowed this cross examination without providing any ability for Ms. Rivera-Medrano to meaningfully review this information. This was not only wrong, but it violated fundamental due process rights.
This case challenges this problematic practice where immigration judges allow immigrants to be ambushed during their hearings without any meaningful ability to review the evidence used against them. Due process must apply to everyone, to immigrants and non-immigrants alike.