April 24, 2018

In Attempt To Speed Up Deportation Hearings, DOJ Gives Judges Quotas

06 April 2018, 01:46 | Rufus Hill

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

Attorney General Jeff Sessions

The standards, which take effect October 1, include six other measures indicating how much time judges should spend on different types of cases and court motions.

The Justice Department issued a directive to US immigration judges to clear at least 700 cases per year to get a "satisfactory" rating, according to reports. In December, Sessions wrote judges that performance measures would aid in "the efficient and timely completion of cases and motions" while maintaining fairness.

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has blamed delays in immigration courts in the past for adding to the backlog in deportation decisions.

The Trump administration said it wants to speed up immigration cases, many of which end up backlogged for years. On Monday, the Justice Department issued a directive to immigration judges about an annual quota on immigration cases.

"The quota system proposed would raise questions about judicial independence and the possibility of judges basing rulings on factors other than the law and the facts in specific cases before them, such as the judges' self-interest in his or her own professional advancement", Tobias said.

A Justice Department source told CNN last week that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was "done" seeing the department criticized for the Federal Bureau of Investigation "slow-walking" requests from Congress.

Critics say that the new standards could make it more hard for judges to rule with fairness and may in turn add to their backlog because more immigrants may choose to appeal decisions by arguing that they were denied a fair hearing. "The objective of implementing these metrics is to encourage efficient and effective case management while preserving immigration judge discretion and due process".

Also, the document includes other criteria such as the "penalty of those who refer more than 15% of certain cases to higher courts, or judges who schedule hearing dates far apart on their calendar", which would put at risk even the lives of those who, for example, are applying for asylum and their lives are in danger if they are returned to their country of origin. "Immigrants will assert the immigration judge's decision denied them due process rights as immigration judges are forced to rush complicated cases through the system without affording each matter proper review", the union said. Decisions in immigration court have life or death consequences and can not be managed like an assembly line.

Laura Lynch, senior policy counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said immigration attorneys were deeply concerned that cases will be "rushed through".

The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), which represents immigration judges in the USA, has warned that the new quotas will "put due process at risk and threaten judicial independence".

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