Remote Adjudication in Immigration

89 Pages Posted: 21 Mar 2015 Last revised: 13 Nov 2015

See all articles by Ingrid V. Eagly

Ingrid V. Eagly

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law; University of Oxford - Border Criminologies

Date Written: March 19, 2015


This Article reports the findings of the first empirical study of the use of televideo technology to remotely adjudicate the immigration cases of litigants held in detention centers in the United States. Comparing the outcomes of televideo and in-person cases in federal immigration courts, it reveals an outcome paradox: detained televideo litigants were more likely than detained in-person litigants to be deported, but judges did not deny respondents’ claims in televideo cases at higher rates. Instead, these inferior results were associated with the fact that detained litigants assigned to televideo courtrooms exhibited depressed engagement with the adversarial process — they were less likely to retain counsel, to apply to remain lawfully in the United States, or to seek an immigration benefit known as voluntary departure.

Drawing on interviews of stakeholders and court observations from the highest-volume detained immigration courts in the country, this Article advances several explanations for why televideo litigants might be less likely than other detained litigants to take advantage of procedures that could help them. These reasons include litigants’ perception that televideo is unfair and illegitimate, technical challenges in litigating claims over a screen, remote litigants’ lower-quality interactions with other courtroom actors, and the exclusion of a public audience from the remote courtroom. This Article’s findings begin an important conversation about technology’s threat to meaningful litigant participation in the adversarial process.

Keywords: immigration law, immigration courts, remote adjudication of immigration cases

Suggested Citation

Eagly, Ingrid V., Remote Adjudication in Immigration (March 19, 2015). 109 Northwestern University Law Review 933 (2015), UCLA School of Law Research Paper No. 15-09, Criminal Justice, Borders and Citizenship Research Paper No. 2581175, Available at SSRN:

Ingrid V. Eagly (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

University of Oxford - Border Criminologies ( email )

Manor Road Building
Manor Rd
Oxford, OX1 3UQ
United Kingdom

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