On July 22, 2021, the Chicago Immigration Court issued a new standing order (linked here) related to the May 2021 ICE OPLA interim enforcement priorities memorandum and local guidance regarding prosecutorial discretion requests. Pursuant to the standing order, parties are ordered to “confer regarding whether the case remains a removal priority for ICE and whether ICE intends to exercise its prosecutorial discretion in advance of any scheduled hearing” (emphasis added). If the parties agree to a particular resolution in the case, they “shall file a joint or unopposed motion detailing the agreed upon resolution no later than thirty (30) days in advance of any scheduled Master or Individual hearing.”
In the past, NIJC pro bono attorneys may have found it difficult to connect with ICE trial attorneys for a substantive pre-hearing conference. In addition, NIJC often encouraged pro bono attorneys not to reach out to opposing counsel until a few days prior to the hearing because the ICE trial attorneys were unlikely to examine the case more than three days before the hearing. In light of this standing order, NIJC now recommends that pro bono attorneys reach out to opposing counsel 60 days prior to the hearing in hopes of narrowing the issues and/or agreeing upon a particular resolution.
If you have an upcoming merits hearing, please contact your NIJC point-of-contact to determine the best way to contact ICE and to discuss possible issues for a pre-hearing conference. Please note that in many cases, the ICE trial attorneys may be unlikely to offer the type of resolution that will ultimately benefit an NIJC pro bono client. It will therefore be important to discuss potential outcomes with NIJC before having a substantive conversation with the ICE trial attorney.