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DOJ To Institute Quotas For Immigration Judges

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a notice to immigration judges on Friday that their job performance will be evaluated based on how quickly they close cases, in an effort to reduce the significant backlog of nearly 700,000 cases pending before the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR).

The backlog was less than 225,000 in 2009 at the beginning of President Obama’s first term, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.

The roughly 200 Judges which are located in 53 immigration courts will be expected to clear at least 700 cases a year, with less than 15% of their decisions sent back on appeal to receive a “satisfactory” rating – a standard their union said was an “unprecedented” step that may undermine judicial independence and potentially open the courts to new legal challenges.

The average judge completed 678 cases per year over the last five years said DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley, however he noted that there is a wide range – with some judges processing as many as 1,500 cases per year.

In addition, they will be required to meet other metrics, depending on their particular workload. One standard demands that 85% of removal cases for people who are detained be completed within three days of a hearing on the merits of the case. Another metric demands that 95% of all merits hearings be completed on the initial scheduled hearing date. -Wall St. Journal

Among the most prolific immigration judges is Saundra Arrington – one of four judges at the Stewart immigration detention facility in Lumpkin, GA who together decide more than 6,000 immigration cases each year – with a 98.2% deportation rate as of FY2015.

Stewart is one of more than 40 privately run facilities across the country that holds those facing deportation. Where immigrants end up is a matter of geography and chance. If they’re arrested in the Southeast part of the country, there’s a good possibility they’ll be sent to Stewart. But if those men had been sent to the detention center in Miami, for example, their futures could be far different: They would be over three times more likely to get an attorney, and 10 times more likely to stay in the U.S. -The Marshall Project

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other DOJ officials say that the backlog has delayed the processing of potential deportees from the United States. 

Many immigrants facing deportation wait years before their court date, however in many cases where they are not detained for a crime unrelated to immigration, they are authorized to work in the United States to support themselves while they wait – which some critics have viewed as an incentive to illegal immigrants.

The new quotas won’t take affect until October 1 of the next fiscal year.

The new standards, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, are to take effect for the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. They have not been released publicly.

In an email to judges sent Friday, James McHenry, director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, said the new system of metrics wasn’t unique to the immigration courts. -Wall St. Journal

“The purpose of implementing these metrics is to encourage efficient and effective case management while preserving immigration judge discretion and due process,” wrote McHenry.

Immigration attorneys along with the judge’s union warned that the rules would result in judges rushing to resolve cases quickly, failing to hear out evidence that could help defendants remain in the United States.

This is a recipe for disaster,” said A. Ashley Tabaddor, an immigration judge in Los Angeles who is president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. “You are going to, at minimum, impact the perception of the integrity of the court.” -WSJ

Union officials were also unhappy that they weren’t given greater details on how performance will be calculated – noting that some judges, mostly those working on the U.S.-Mexico border, may have much quicker cases to process – while other judges may work more complicated cases which take longer to resolve.

The DOJ’s Friday letter to judges made clear that they will have the opportunity to “provide input” before they are given an “unsatisfactory” score on any measurement.

“These are not mere target goals,” said Greg Chen, director of government affairs for the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “This is your job depends upon your ability to make sure you come in at these levels.”


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