New Quotas for Immigration Judges as Trump Administration Seeks Faster Deportations

Rules were laid out in a message sent Friday to immigration judges

The Washington Post

Immigration judges have been notified by the Justice Department that their job performance will be evaluated by how quickly they close open cases.  This is an effort being enforced to catch up on case backlogs and speed up deportation decisions.

The Trump administration will pressure U.S. immigration judges to process cases faster by establishing a quota system tied to their annual performance reviews, according to new Justice Department directives.

The judges will be expected to clear at least 700 cases a year to receive a “satisfactory” performance rating, a standard that their union called an “unprecedented” step that risks undermining judicial independence.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised to stiffen immigration enforcement partly by moving more aggressively to clear a backlog of more than 600,000 cases pending before the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR).

Some immigrants facing deportation wait years for a court date, and are typically authorized to work in the United States to support themselves during that time, an arrangement critics view as an incentive to illegal immigration.

According to a copy of the guidelines, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, the purpose of the new quota system will be to ensure “cases are completed in a timely, efficient, and effective manner.”

Immigration judges completed 678 cases in an average year, said Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley, but he said some judges clear well over 1,000.

“The big takeaway is that this is the equivalent of completing three cases a day, so it’s not that big of a lift,” O’Malley said, in an interview.

Immigration cases can vary widely in complexity, and O’Malley said that judges who fail to meet their quotas can appeal to supervisors if their numbers fall short of the Justice Department’s goals.

The EOIR is part of the executive branch, not the judicial branch, so it functions in part as a branch of the U.S. law enforcement, even though its judges are supposed to enjoy full independence.

Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said the quota system could introduce an “appealable” issue that could lead to new legal challenges.

“It could call into question the integrity and impartiality of the court if a judge’s decision is influenced by factors outside the facts of the case, or if motions are denied out of a judge’s concerned about keeping his or her job,” Tabaddor said.

Tabaddor said the union does not object to the idea that judges would receive performance evaluations, but a quota-based system goes too far.

“We don’t know of any other court whose judges are subject to individual quotas and deadlines as part of performance reviews and evaluations,” she said.

(Photo Provided by WP Company LLC d/b/a The Washington Post)

Leave a Reply