One Year Later, Biden’s Decision to Speed Up Deportations Has Stained His Legacy

May 27, 2022 – Tomorrow marks one year since the Biden administration revived and accelerated the notorious “rocket dockets”—court proceedings that curtail access to justice by prioritizing speed over due process, giving asylum-seeking families less than a year to defend their right to stay in the United States. First conceived by President Obama and made more severe under President Trump, these dockets have not reduced the immigration court backlog or delivered fairer results, but have instead put families fleeing violence, persecution, and death on a fast track to deportation.

Kica Matos, vice president of initiatives, issued the following statement:

“President Biden’s decision to not only revive but also deliberately speed up deportations for asylum-seeking families is shameful and indefensible. He has urged judges to focus on speed and not justice by deciding cases even faster than before, despite years of evidence showing that rocket dockets are ineffective and counterproductive. If President Biden wishes to remove this stain from his legacy, he must get serious about the true barriers to justice in our immigration system. This means no more accelerated dockets, no more forced expulsions, and no more detention. President Biden must end the accelerated dockets, end forced expulsions, end detention, and support access to justice for all, including a federally funded right to representation for everyone facing deportation.”

Despite assurances from the Biden administration that it would ensure families on the docket have access to adequate legal resources, independent reports and Vera’s own significant experience supporting the government’s legal network shows that this is not happening. A majority of families on the docket do not have attorneys, which makes a staggering difference to the outcome of a case. For example, people in detention who have an attorney are 3.5 times more likely to win release from detention on bond and 10 times more likely to prove their right to remain in the United States.

About the Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice is powered by hundreds of advocates, researchers, and policy experts working to transform the criminal legal and immigration systems until they’re fair for all. Founded in 1961 to advocate for alternatives to money bail in New York City, Vera is now a national organization that partners with impacted communities and government leaders for change. We develop just, antiracist solutions so that money doesn’t determine freedom; fewer people are in jails, prisons, and immigration detention; and everyone is treated with dignity. Vera’s headquarters is in Brooklyn, New York, with offices in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. For more information, visit