Immigration courts operate within a completely different arena than other courts within the United States. The main difference is they only handle immigration issues.
These courts are also civil, not criminal, which impacts a lot of the processes. They are also part of the Department of Justice or the executive branch instead of the judicial branch. Other differences in immigration courts will directly impact those going to court as defendants.
One of the biggest differences people find with immigration courts is there is no right to an appointed attorney. You must provide and pay for your own legal representation. The court will not provide one for you. And having a lawyer by your side can greatly enhance your ability to do well in court. The United States, which is the prosecution, will have an attorney to present its case. So having one of your own puts you on more level ground.
Attorney General influence
Since these courts are under the Justice Department, the US Attorney General has a lot of control. The AG can reassign cases at any time, which means you may end up with a different judge than you had expected. The AG can also overturn a judge’s ruling. You may think you are finished with your case only to learn the AG made a change.
Immigration courts operate differently than other courts within the United States. Some of the differences are behind the scenes, but others can impact your experience. It is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the court system and operations before you go before the judge.