In an effort to deal with the backlog in immigration court, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has established quotas for immigration judges. Among other performance goals, immigration judges will need to complete at least 700 cases-per-year in order to receive a “satisfactory” rating.
The National Association for Immigration Judges is against the quota arguing that the quotas will impede justice and due process. If you dissect the figures, thru February 2018, there were 684,583 deportation cases pending and less than 350 immigration judges nationwide. If current immigration judges did their 700 cases per year, it would take roughly 3 years for the backlog to clear… and that is assuming no additional deportation cases get added to the backlog… ever!
Clearing out the backlog is an ambitious goal, but at what cost? Immigrants in deportation cases rely on due process … the stakes are especially high for immigrants who came to the United States in search of asylum…oftentimes their lives depend upon a judge’s decision.
We already have immigrant children in court, sometimes without representation, and now we are about to see chaos added to the situation by encouraging judges to expedite cases… so that we can clear a backlog? This does not seem fair. There is also little-to-no proof that judges working too slowly is the cause of the backlog. If we were not so quick to give out deportation orders, there might not be as big of a backlog to clear! But, that topic is another discussion altogether.
The Trump administration has made dealing with immigration in the United States a priority, but setting quotas and being involved in making performance goals for judges in immigration courts takes their influence to a new level. Being that immigration judges will now be evaluated on how many cases they complete, it is impossible to predict how different judges will react to cases on a daily basis.
In my opinion, setting quotas for immigration judges will negatively impact removal hearings. If you currently have a deportation order pending, you need to make sure that you know as much as possible about immigration law and representing yourself in immigration court. It is likely that immigration judges will be rushing through removal hearings in Miami and all across the country. Now, more than ever, immigration judges need to know why you are in a removal hearing and understand every minute detail that can support your case. There is absolutely no room for immigrants to make any type of errors in removal hearings because the smallest mistake in immigration court can result in a deportation or other types of unfavorable rulings.