In early April 2018, the U.S. Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), a sub-entity of the Department of Justice, issued a memo to immigration judges stating that rules for judges would be modified in the near future. After modification, every immigration judge in the U.S. will be expected to complete at least 700 cases each calendar year. While some judges already do this, activists are concerned that this will lead to an overall lack of due process for those waiting in the system.
The Backlog is Long
The immediate reason for such action from EOIR is the U.S. immigration court backlog, which comprises hundreds of thousands of cases, each one representing a person who is entitled to due process rights and a hearing on their specific situation. TRAC immigration statistics show a currently pending backlog of 684,583 cases as of this writing, with average disposition time rising to over 700 days (more than two years) — in Denver and San Antonio, the average time to have one’s case heard is over 1,000 days.
Part of the reason for this is the abundant vacancies on the immigration bench. The current president campaigned on ‘tightening up’ U.S. immigration law, but as such a thing cannot be done unilaterally (or without naming many more judges), he has actively encouraged lawmakers to deal with the backlog in a swift manner. EOIR is under the aegis of Attorney General Sessions, who has come out as a strong hardliner on immigration matters, and this move is being seen as a remedy for crowded courts. However, it is hardly universally accepted.
How Does This Affect Me?
If this plan is implemented, immigration activists fear that it will lead to miscarriages of justice due to sheer speed and lack of time for thorough investigation. There are approximately 350 immigration judges, and requiring 700 cases per year from each of them works out to two per day. This is simply not enough time to accurately examine the evidence in some complex cases, which is likely to lead to either unjust deportations, or at the very least, to an increase in appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the federal Courts of Appeals (which is the next step after the BIA). This does not decrease the backlog.
If these standards are implemented, it may become even more important to have an attorney at the immigration judge level, if at all possible, because preserving your right to appeal from an IJ’s rushed decision may mean the difference between being deported and being permitted to remain in the United States. If you are genuinely removable, you will still eventually wind up being deported, but if you have cause to be allowed to remain (such as credible fear of persecution or other humanitarian concerns), the idea of being deported due to a judge’s failure to fully investigate is insupportable.
Call an Experienced Attorney Today
While these numerical quotas have not yet been implemented (the current plan involves doing so on October 1, 2018), it is still important to be prepared for potential issues with your case if at all possible. The talented Chicago deportation defense attorneys at Mevorah Law Offices LLC can work with you to try and ensure you get the fairest outcome possible in the immigration system. Call our offices today for a free consultation.
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