Documents reviewed by NY1 show that some migrants have been scheduled to appear before ICE agents nearly a decade after they arrive in the United States.
It is one example of what some immigration attorneys tell NY1 are examples of a broken immigration system.
Anyone who turns themselves into border patrol when they come to the U.S. must meet with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent. That will lead to scheduling a court appearance in front of an immigration judge, who will eventually decide whether the migrant should be deported or granted status, like asylum.
But that process is not always happening very quickly.
Jodi Ziesemer showed NY1 paperwork for one of her clients, set to meet with ICE in 2032.
“We have in our constitution the right to a speedy trial,” she said.
This is not a one off. Other immigration lawyers like Lauren Wyatt have seen ICE appointments in 2032.
“I don’t know how you could possibly keep remember that you have to attend an appointment nine years from now,” she said. “You don’t even know where you’ll be living nine years from now.”
26 Federal Plaza in Lower Manhattan is the federal facility where migrants in New York City go to check in with ICE.
Last year, the lines got so long, federal officials created an online system so migrants could set up appointments online.
But there’s a problem.
“I tried to check in online but I saw the near date was available slot was 2029 November,” one man said, who crossed the southern border after fleeing Russia, told NY1.
That means he would need to wait over six years to meet with ICE. So he showed up in mid-May in the middle of the night to wait in the long line that forms outside the building many nights, in order to try to meet with an ICE agent the following day.
Immigration lawyers tell NY1 the backlog in cases is making it more complicated to apply for asylum.
Migrants have 1 year to apply from the moment they touch U.S. soil.
Normally, they would give the application to their immigration judge, but because some of them can’t get a timely appointment, they have to go about it in other ways.
Immigration lawyers tell NY1 one path is to drop off the application at 26 Federal Plaza without meeting with a judge. However, that’s only possible if the migrant has a court appointment already scheduled.
If the migrant has yet to meet with an ICE agent, then the migrant has the option to submit the asylum application with United States Citizens and Immigration Services.
But lawyers tell NY1 the different options can be confusing, especially for people in a new country, who oftentimes don’t speak English and without a lawyer.
“This backlog, this sea of stupidity that we have to swim in,” Ed Cuccia, an immigration lawyer in Chinatown, said. “The people who are scamming the system are jumping for joy. The people who are truly suffering are weeping. It’s just a shame.”
And lawyers like Cuccia say they fear that means migrants, those with legitimate asylum claims and those without, will all be here together, living in the shadows, as they wait on their court cases.