The Chicago Immigration Court is one of 58 immigration courts in the United States and, unsurprisingly, it is one of the busiest. Like all US immigration courts, it is subject to the authority of the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge. The judgments of the Chicago Immigration Court can be overturned by a successful appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The Chicago Immigration Court is part of the Executive Office of Immigration Review.
What Does the Court Do?
An immigration court is a court in which immigration judges conduct removal (deportation) proceedings, decide on claims for asylum, and perform certain other immigration-related activities. The Chicago Immigration Court has no jurisdiction over criminal offenses committed by immigrants, including illegal entry to the United States — that is the responsibility of the criminal justice system.
The Chicago Immmigration Court’s address is 525 W Van Buren St, Suite 500, Chicago, IL 60607. Its normal working hours run from 8 am to 4 pm Monday to Friday. The window, however, does not open until 8:30 and closes for lunch between 12 and 12:30 pm. The Court can be reached by telephone at 312-697-5800.
Keep in mind that opening hours, in-person hearings and telephone access have been drastically affected by the Covid-19 crisis, and that the situation is changing rapidly.
The Chicago Immigration Court employs 14 immigration judges, including Assistant Chief Immigration Judge Sheila McNulty and 13 other immigration judges:
Samuel B. Cole
Kathryn De Angelis
Craig A. Defore
Michael P. Klosowsky
Elizabeth G. Lang
Joshua D. Luskin
Patrick M. McKenna
Jennifer I. Peyton
Eva S. Saltzman
The Acting Court Administrator is Glenda Viray.
Your Constitutional Rights as an Immigrant
You don’t have to be a US citizen or a permanent resident to enjoy certain basic constitutional rights. The 14th Amendment “due process” and “equal protection” rights apply to all persons, not only Americans.
Normally, the 14th Amendment means that when charged with immigration violations, you are entitled to a hearing before an immigration judge (but see below for the “expedited removal” exception). If you are expected to appear in immigration court, you will be presented with Form I-862, Notice to Appear, which will include all of the charges against you.
Right to an Attorney
If you are charged with a criminal offense, you have the right to representation by an attorney even if you cannot afford to pay one. Immigration proceedings, however, are considered to be administrative proceedings rather than criminal proceedings. As such, although you do have the right to be represented by an attorney, no attorney will be provided to you if you cannot afford to pay one yourself. In this case, you will have to represent yourself.
Expedited Removal Proceedings
Unfortunately, depending on your circumstances you might not make it as far as an immigration court. Under “expedited removal” procedures, you can be deported from the United States by a low-level immigration officer without a hearing or any other appearance in immigration court. This may happen if you:
Arrive at the border without proper documentation (a valid passport, or example;
Arrive without inspection and are apprehended within 14 days of your arrival within 100 miles of the border with either Mexico or Canada.
Since expedited removal has been increasing in recent years, especially since the limitation of Chicago Immigration Court operations during the Covid-19 crisis, you may or may not get your “day in court.”