Immigration Court Watch Program

COURT WATCH was founded by Sisters Pat Murphy and Joanne Persch of the Sisters of Mercy and Sisters and Brothers of Immigrants.  They were moved by their faith and conscience to stand in solidarity with immigrant communities, especially those who remain in detention, who are often the most vulnerable and invisible.


The OBJECTIVES of the Court Watch Program are to stand in solidarity and serve as a presence in Detained Immigrant Court to let those involved in this system know that we are watching and we care about what happens to our immigrant sisters and brothers.  By serving as a public witness we aim to bring transparency to this broken system and educate outside communities about the current conditions of immigrants in detention.  It is our goal that through monitoring and documenting our observations we also support the urgent and imperative need for comprehensive immigration reform.



Each year, as many as 400,000 immigrants are detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and they often remain detained for some months unless they become eligible for bond.[1]  Many of these immigrants have no criminal histories and are being detained on minor charges as well as the civil charge of entering the country without authorization.  They are pur- suing various forms of legal relief that are available to immigrants, such as asylum, cancellation of removal, waiver of removal, or relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT). 



Detention Court is located in the west Loop at 525 W.Van Buren, corner of Canal, in Ste. 500; (312) 697-5800 ext 0.  Immigrants in detention are frequently not present in the courtroom for their hearings.  Rather, they appear via Video-Teleconferencing (VTC).  As many of the detainees are non-native speakers of English, they communicate via a translator, who may either be present in the courtroom or be connected telephonically through a translation service. 



In order to stand in solidarity for immigrant justice we must provide support, share the voice of immigrants in detention with the public, and let the Department of Justice know that we are watching.  Immigration Detention Court hearings are held Monday - Friday from 9am-12pm and 1pm-4pm, except for Federal holidays. Interested participants should contact Mary Naftzger, the Volunteer Coordinator of the Court Watch Program for more information on how to get involved.:  or phone : 773-373-7805.


  Immigration Court Watch is a program of the Interfaith Committee for Detained Immigrants




[1] FY Statistical Year Book, U.S. Department of Justice, Executive Office of Immigration Review, March 2005