Tent court hearings for migrants ramp up in Texas as lawyers decry lack of access

The ramping up of tent courts in Texas on Monday was marked by confusion and disorganization as only about half the migrants scheduled to appear showed up, most without legal representation.

News Story (NATIONAL)

Daniella Silva
NBC News
September 16, 2019

Tags: Immigration

Organizations mentioned/involved: National Immigrant Justice Center


Lisa Koop, a lawyer representing the migrants, told NBC News after the hearings that initially she met with her clients in a shipping-container like facility that had been fashioned into attorney meeting rooms. She was then escorted with her clients to the courtroom in one of the large white tent-style facilities.

“I think it’s surreal to approach this facility and understand it to be a court of law,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a court, it does act like a court, it doesn’t look like a court.”

Koop, who is with the National Immigrant Justice Center, also questioned the ability of migrants to have due process under the circumstances.

“It’s hard to advocate for them when we don’t know the system we’re trying to navigate on their behalf,” she said. “I think it’s difficult to describe this process as legitimate when you have people living in fear on the southern border in Mexico.”