A congress control committee held a hearing this week on the need to reform immigration courts and the systemic challenges of the immigration court system.
The House Justice Committee’s Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee heard from several experts on the subject. Most experts advocated that the Immigration Court should move from the executive to the judiciary.
The system of immigration courts – or the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) – is housed in the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). The U.S. Attorney General (AG) heads the department. This means that the AG oversees immigration judges and lawyers, assessing and prosecuting cases before the Immigration Court.
Immigration judges do not enjoy many of the safeguards that other federal judges receive. For example, federal judges generally enjoy a life-long term. Immigration judges, however, have no fixed term and can be dismissed by the AG or transferred to another court.
This inherent conflict of interest has plagued immigration courts from the start. But a number of changes to the immigration court system in recent years have made the situation worse.
From October 1, 2018, the AG submitted all immigration judges to an individual Case completion rates tied to their performance reviews. Critics claimed the move threatened to become an immigration judge “Assembly line worker.”
Judgments in complicated cases that have life and death consequences can jeopardize the orderly process. The accelerated pace can also lead to an increase in legal remedies and federal disputes. This, in turn, could slow down the process and exacerbate a growing backlog of immigration courts. A few others amendments This has undermined the ability of immigration judges to judge fairly and impartially.
The steadily growing backlog in immigration cases has justified the measures taken by the AG, without any evidence that politics would reduce the backlog. In fact, the guidelines have contributed to the backlog.
“America needs an immigration court that has no undue influence on the decisions of immigration judges … The legal role of the immigration court is simply incompatible with the law enforcement mission and the role of the DOJ.”
The AG’s measures have shown us time and time again that the current structure of the system of immigration courts makes a fair day in court a day that hinders the orderly process. The creation of an independent and impartial immigration court is essential.
Immigration judges, the American public, and immigrants who appear before immigration courts nationwide would benefit. Our country needs an independent immigration court that reflects and promotes our core values of fairness and justice.
Filed under: Ministry of Justice, EOIR, Immigration Judge
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