This report focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on immigrants who are currently not detained seeking justice through immigration courts. Immigrants who are detained in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) while they await adjudication of their claims face different challenges during the pandemic, and an upcoming report (Institutional Injustice: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Immigration Detention) will address those specific concerns. In particular, this report focuses on the environment of insecurity faced by immigrants who are not detained because of increasingly limited access to immigration relief, immigrant community safety concerns arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, ever-changing policies and procedures of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), and other challenges that make access to much-needed representation and rights harder than ever for immigrants to obtain.
This report drew predominately from existing literature as well as interviews with direct service providers and experts in the field. A total of 15 interviews were conducted with respondents from Texas, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.