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Political Influence on Immigration Courts

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Political Influence on Immigration Courts

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The Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) recently reassigned a high profile case to an out-of-town immigration judge handpicked by EOIR headquarters.  The reason it took the case away from one judge and gave it to another was because the original judge hadn’t issued a removal order as quickly as the administration had wanted.  In response, the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) filed a grievance against EOIR on August 8, 2018.

Separately, immigration judge training materials obtained by Kansas City-based immigration attorney Matthew Hoppock show that EOIR headquarters is instructing immigration judges that the categorical approach, a method of analyzing statutes mandated by the U.S. Supreme Court, is something to be “avoided” where the result is uncomfortably favorable to the immigrant in removal proceedings.

At the same time, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has stripped judges of the ability to use administrative closure to manage their dockets, urged immigration judges to crack down on continuances, and announced that judges will for the first time be required to hit case-completion quotas.

All of these moves cut against the legally required exercise of independent judgment and discretion by immigration judges. The fact that the immigration court system is not housed in the judicial branch but rather within the Department of Justice has long been problematic.  But this administration’s thirst for faster deportations without concern for due process has upped the urgency for Congress to restructure the immigration court system as an Article I court independent of the Department of Justice and free from political influence.

In the meantime, our attorneys at Joseph & Hall P.C. will continue to demand our clients’ rights in court, call out any interference, and challenge these policies on appeal and in federal court.

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