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AILA Says Setting Benchmarks for Immigration Judges Strips Courts of Independence

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) criticized a directive from the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) mandating that immigration judges complete their deportation cases more quickly. The group said these quotas will deprive the courts of the independence with judges being forced to choose between meeting numbers and granting a fair hearing.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the EOIR sent out a memo to immigration judges ordering them to render their decisions as expeditiously as possible in order to cut down on the backlog of cases. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the backlog has allowed those undocumented immigrants, who were supposed to be removed, to continue to remain in the country.

Effective October 1, 2018, immigration judges are to complete no fewer than 700 cases a year and no more than 15% of their decisions (or 105) are to be sent back by a higher court. In addition, 85% of removal cases in which the judge must hear the merits of the case must be completed within three days, and 95% of those hearings must be completed on the date when the initial hearing is scheduled.

This is not the first time the Justice Department has made a push to expedite immigration cases. In July 2017, the chief immigration judge wrote a memo to the other judges telling them not to postpone any cases. Five months later, the judges received another memo, this one from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, reminded them that expediting the deportation cases serves “the national interest.”

But the AILA begged to differ. “These unprecedented numeric quotas are so onerous that many judges will rush through cases to protect their own jobs,” said AILA Secretary Jeremy McKinney. “Decisions in immigration court have life or death consequences and cannot be managed like an assembly line. This policy adds another cog to the administration’s deportation machine that seeks to rapidly remove massive numbers of people at the expense of due process. This push to compel judges to complete cases is new and dangerous and is the latest example of why the courts need independence.”

If you are living in the United States as a non-citizen and are fearful of facing deportation, the experienced immigration attorneys at Bretz & Coven LLP may be able to help you gain Legal Permanent Resident status or deferred action. The firm will also defend you during removal proceedings and appeals. Call (212) 267-2555 in New York or (732) 313-0075 in New Jersey.

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The immigration consequences of criminal or fraudulent conduct can be harsh and often illogical. Even a very minor offense could have a dramatic immigration consequence, including deportation, detention without bond, being denied naturalization, a visa or re-entry into the United States. Likewise, the use of fake or fraudulent documents, aliases, and other misrepresentations can have similar immigration consequences. Kerry Bretz and Bretz & Coven have been counseling non-citizen criminal defendants, as well as their lawyers, for over 20 years. We have a long history of strategizing deportation and removal defenses, as well as applications for waivers, in very complicated cases.

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