New performance goals announced by the Department of Justice will require immigration judges to complete at least 700 cases per year in order to get a “satisfactory” rating.[i] Immigration judges, after subtracting out days for training and vacation, are working on cases for a maximum of 220 days per year. To meet their new 700 case quota, this would require them to finish 3.5 cases per day.
At the Denver Immigration Court, the six immigration judges are projected to complete 2,030 cases in fiscal year 2018.[ii] This averages 338 cases per judge for the year. Attorney General Sessions is thus requiring them to somehow more than double their case completion rate while still adequately developing an evidentiary record, grappling with complex legal arguments, and issuing well-reasoned decisions.
Immigrants in removal proceedings have due process rights including the right to examine evidence against them, present evidence in support of their cases, cross-examine government witnesses, and apply for relief from deportation.[iii] Qualifying noncitizens have the right to apply to adjust to green card status, including during removal proceedings.[iv] Undocumented immigrants have the right to apply to cancel their deportation proceedings and get a green card to remain here with their families if they meet certain criteria.[v] Those who fear persecution if they return to a foreign country have a right to a full evidentiary hearing on the application for asylum.[vi] Legal and evidentiary issues often require multiple hearings and a final hearing which takes up at least half of a day.
The lack of discovery in removal proceedings makes these cases even less suited to a quota system. Instead, noncitizens and their attorneys typically must request a copy of any documents relevant to their case from various agencies including United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Department of State. These results can take many months or even years. Immigration judges cannot push these cases through before the noncitizen has access to their file without violating immigrants’ constitutional and statutory due process rights.
Similarly, many noncitizens’ cases in court depend on petitions which are adjudicated outside the immigration court system by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Neither the immigration judges nor the noncitizens have any control over how quickly USCIS adjudicates these applications. And right now, USCIS’s case processing times are skyrocketing, meaning that immigration judges will be pressured to order removals for people whose valid claims for immigration status are stuck in USCIS’s lengthy backlogs.
Unfortunately, the Jeff Sessions-led Department of Justice is about to give immigration judges an unsavory choice: faithful adherence to the law including the required due process for noncitizens in the face of potential consequences from unhappy bosses; or cranking out decisions at impossible rates in search of a “satisfactory” rating. We can only hope that most of the immigration judges will choose the former.
[iii] 8 U.S.C. §1229a.
[iv] 8 U.S.C. §§ 1255(a), (i).
[v] 8 U.S.C. §1229b .
[vi] 8 U.S.C. §1158.
Over the course of the past few months, at least five lawsuits have been filed against Contract Detention Facilities (“CDF”s) alleging that the CDFs’ payments to immigrant detainees of $1…
When talking about immigration policy and using the term “amnesty”, many pundits argue that immigrants coming to the United States should all have to enter the United States legally in…
Joseph & Hall P.C. is a full-service immigration law firm. We pride ourselves on being nationwide experts in all areas of immigration law, including the practice areas listed below. Our attorneys frequently are asked to speak both locally and nationally on a wide variety of immigration topics. For an overview of each practice area, please click the links below. If you have any questions about how these practice areas may apply to your case, please do not hesitate to contact our firm.
Countless people dream of becoming a U.S. citizen. If your application was rejected by the USCIS, we are here to fight for your best interests.
We assist entrepreneurs, business owners and investors with corporate immigration needs. We understand the urgency of these issues and work to solve the matter efficiently.
We provide a range of family immigration services to help you determine whether you qualify for citizenship.
Deportation can split your family apart and make the future uncertain. Build a solid legal defense alongside our immigration attorneys.
Get in touch with us. Write us a message.