THE LOS ANGELES IMMIGRATION COURT

 

By:  Roman P. Mosqueda, Esq.

 

 

            The seal of the U.S. Department of Justice, which includes the Executive Office for Immigration Review, which further supervises the Immigration Courts, has a Latin motto: “Qui Pro Domina Justitia Sequitur” (“Who Prosecutes On Behalf of the Lady Justice”).

 

            The Los Angeles Immigration Court is located at 606 S. Olive St., 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th floors, Los Angeles, CA 90014, with general information kiosks on the 15th floor.  For case information on the status and next hearing,  respondents can call 1-800-    898-7180, giving his or her Alien Number.

 

            Currently, there are twenty-three (23) listed Immigration Judges in Los Angeles, which still include Judge Proctor, who has recently transferred to the San Francisco Immigration Court, and one visiting judge, Judge Stockton of the San Francisco Immigration Court.  The Los Angeles Immigration Court has jurisdiction over immigration cases of respondents normally residing in the Counties of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside.

 

Los Angeles

Immigration Judges:

 

            The 22 Immigration Judges currently sitting in Los Angeles are: Anderson (Ct. W, 17th Fl.), Bank (Ct. N, 16th Fl.), Bither (Ct. O, 16th Fl.), Bradley (Ct. P. 16th Fl.) Bronzina (Ct. U, 17th Fl.). Einhorn (Ct. C, 14th Fl.), Fong (Ct. Z, 18th Fl,), Gembacz (Ct. S, 17th Fl.),  Giattina (Ct. H, 16th Fl.), Ho (Ct. B, 14th Fl.) , Latimore (Ct. E., 14th Fl.,) Martin (Ct. T, 17th Fl.), McDermott (Ct. J, 16th Fl.), Muñoz (Ct. I, 16th Fl.), vacant  (Ct. D, 14th Fl. vacated by IJ Proctor), Renner (Ct. F, 14th Fl.), Romig (Ct. M., 16th Fl.), Sholomson (Ct. Q, 17th Fl.), Stancill (Ct. K, 16th Fl.), Taylor (Ct. X, 17th Flr.), Vahid-Tehrani (Ct. R. 17th Fl.), Walsh (Ct. G, 14th Fl.), and Walton (Ct. A, 14th Fl.).

 

Translators Provided

But Not Attorneys:

 

            Respondents issued and served with a Notice To Appear (NTA) and appearing before the Immigration Court can appear in pro per (representing himself or herself), or obtain counsel at his or her expense, or from legal aid or non-profit organization.

 

            But the Immigration Court provides a free translator in the language of the respondent alien, who is not comfortable with the English language and requests for one.  The Los Angeles Immigration Court has translators in Spanish, who work for the Court, and contracted  translators from Berlitz.

 

            The proceedings of the Immigration Court are recorded; and respondents or their attorney can listen to the recorded proceedings upon written request and by appointment.  Respondent or counsel may also request copy of documents in  the Court’s file of respondent’s case.

 

Immigration Court’s Locations

And Local Operating Procedures:

 

            Immigration Courts under the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) are located in cities all over the United States, with courts in bigger cities with larger immigrant population like Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Miami, having more Immigration Judges.

 

            But each Immigration Court in each city has similar local operating procedures, governing filing procedure, change of venue motion practice, withdrawal/substitution of representation and continuances.   The Office of the Chief Immigration Judge (OCIJ) is in Falls Church, Virginia, where the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), which also falls under the EOIR, is located on the same street:  Leesburg Pike.

 

            There are Immigration Courts in federally-owned detention facilities, such as in San Pedro and Lancaster, California, and contractor-owned-and-operated detention facilities, such as in Eloy, Arizona, and Houston, Texas.

 

Motion For Change

Of  Venue:

 

            Regulations in 8 C.F.R. §§ 3.20, 3.23(a) and 3.32 govern motions for change of venue in Immigration Court.  The written motion for change of venue must contain the alien-respondent’s plea (admissions or denials) to the allegations and charge(s) contained in the charging document (Notice to Appear on Form I-862), the designation of a country in the event of removal, or a declination to designate such a country, as in an asylum case, the relief(s) sought by the respondent, if any, the date and time of the scheduled hearing (master’s or individual [merits]) before the Immigration Judge, and the name of the Immigration Judge, if any hearings have occurred prior to the filing of the motion to change venue.

 

            And pursuant to case law (Matter of Rahman, 20 I&N Dec. 480 [BIA 1992]), the factors relevant to the change of venue motion that should be considered by the Immigration Judge are:

 

(a)    evidence of transfer by the respondent to a new location or address,

 

(b)   location of witnesses and cost of transporting witnesses to the Court, and

 

(c)    expeditious treatment of the case and administrative convenience.

 

The motion for change of venue is required by Rahman, supra, to specify the witnesses (names and addresses), the nature of their testimony, and reason why counsel could not be obtained in the present venue or location of the Immigration Court. 

 

Few immigration attorneys regularly appear and defend alien-respondents in the Immigration Courts. Trial skills and familiarity with the idiosyncrasies of the Immigration Judges are required of them to effectively represent their clients. 

 

 

(The Author, Roman P. Mosqueda, has been regularly handling and personally appearing before Immigration Courts all over the United States for more than fifteen (15) years).