On April 21, 2022 the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) of the US Department of Justice announced that it would close the Pittsburgh immigration court on Sydney Street effective April 29 due to space and staff limitations.
As a result of that decision, people in the region with cases assigned to the Pittsburgh hearing location now have to attend their hearings at the Philadelphia Immigration Court. Presente attended a Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association led immigrant stakeholder’s meeting on April 29 where the impact of the court closure was discussed.
The decision affects people from Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia who now have to travel many hours to get to Philadelphia. Many people do not have the financial means for the trip and have to miss work to be able to make it. The feasibility of virtual hearings meetings was discussed but there are concerns that many are not comfortable with that level of technology.
Monica Ruiz of Pittsburgh’s Casa San Jose shared that people with moved scheduled hearings “cannot afford to stay overnight in Philadelphia and miss an extra day of work… which might result in losing their source of income. These limitations put them in a position of higher risk of not being able to attend their hearings, forcing them to make the difficult and unnecessary decision of complying with their immigration court or providing for their families.”
Immigrant advocates and community leaders will continue their work, calling on the Executive Office for Immigration Review to find a new location and ways to solve the staffing issue which would enable the local Pittsburgh Immigration Court location to reopen.