Local News

N.C. One Of Three States Considered For New Immigration Court

Posted July 6, 2006

— North Carolina is on a short list to get an immigration court. The competition: Nebraska and Missouri. The goal is to process deportation claims more quickly.

The three states in the running all have a long trip to their respective immigration court. Defendents from North Carolina must go about 435 miles to Atlanta. Many never show up.

The criteria that the Justice Department is using to determine where the court goes is the amount of cases in a state, the proximity to another state with an immigration court and the ability to pay for it.

In the 2004-05 fiscal year, North Carolina sent 3,400 cases to Atlanta. That's the highest number that year among all states without their own immigration court. The Department of Justice will consider that number, as well as the distance traveled.

The three states in the running all have a long trip to their respective immigration court. From the capital of Missouri, it's 162 miles to the court in Kansas City. Nebraska has the longest trip -- 523 miles to Chicago, their nearest court.

Rep. Sue Myrick said with at least 300,000 illegal immigrants in the state, the court is a must.

"If they are here illegally, they are breaking the law and that's what a lot of people are concerned about, enforcing the laws on the books," said Myrick's spokesman, Andy Polk.

But Marisol Jimenez, a spokesperson with El Pueblo, a non-profit advocacy group for Latinos said, "Unfortunately, while it will expedite the deportation process, the ability to appeal or pursue legal status, none of these things are going to fix the system. We need comprehensive immigration reform."

There is no word on when the Department of Justice will make a decision. In a letter to Myrick, the Department of Justice said they would monitor the case load and "evaluate needs to appropriately allocate available resources."


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