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Detainees Lost in Court in Laredo

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The Texas Tribune reported in collaboration with the Marshall Project and This American Life that immigration court in Laredo has lost track of immigrants’ files. The court’s disarray took place in the Laredo Processing Center operated by CoreCivic (formerly Corrections Corporation of America, or CCA).

In the case of asylum seeker Oscar Arnulfo Ramírez, the court clerk lost record that he was still detained. “It’s as if he’s non-existent,” Ramírez, lawyer, Paola Tostado, told the Texas Tribune. “He’s still in a detention center… But there’s no proceeding going on. He’s just sitting there doing completely nothing.” Tostado also reported in December that she had two other clients delayed in their hearings with no court date “for more than seven months.

Reporters spent one week in the facility in October and found that detainees were “lost in the system for months on end,” prolonging their detention and leading to chaos in the small, windowless courtroom. “Hearing schedules were erratic, case files went missing,” the article stated.

The backlog of immigration cases, especially along the Texas/Mexico border, has kept populations high in privately owned detention centers.

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