In 2018, the Trump administration implemented a new quota system for immigration judges at the Executive Office of Immigration Review (“EOIR”). Under these new quotas, Denver Immigration Judges were required to more than double their case completion rate, deciding 3.5 cases per day. Without access to discovery in removal proceedings, immigrants are often dependent on filing requests for their relevant files from USCIS, CBP, ICE, and the Department of State. These agencies can take months to sometimes years to provide results. Thus, the newly created judicial quotas collided head-on with immigrant due process rights.
However, on October 19, 2021, Chief Immigrant Judge Tracy Short issued an internal email to all EOIR judges suspending the 2018 quota system effective immediately. Short declared that the agency was working on developing new performance measures which would be shared with the judges shortly. However, instead of shining a light on the effect the quota had on immigrant due process rights, Short cited issues with “balance and equity for the various types of docket assignments.” Many immigration judges originally took issue with the quotas because different dockets could more easily meet the goals than others—judges with family cases could complete several cases simultaneously.
Although the internal rationalization for the rescission of the policy may not have been based in humanity towards immigrants, the outcome may be a win for immigrant rights nonetheless. But for it truly to be a step in the right direction, we will have to see what replaces the 2018 quota system. We will provide you updates as more details emerge.
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