How the Recent Immigration Judge Hiring Boost will Affect Removal Proceedings

Now that the recent policy changes are beginning to roll out in immigration courts, there’s also an increasing need for new judges to handle the workload.

As you may know, over the past year Attorney General Jeff Sessions has introduced tougher, “zero-tolerance” immigration policies across the country. Sessions says that these policies will help, “end the lawlessness that now exists in our immigration system.” Of course, when there are tougher laws, more people are arrested.

This also results in an increased caseload for immigration judges.

To help ease this caseload, Sessions has streamlined the hiring process for new immigration judges. His hope is that the decreased hiring time will get new judges in place more quickly. That way, they can deal with an increasing number of immigration cases that officers are bringing to court.

In this article, we’ll give a quick overview of the ways that this increase in immigration judges will affect current and future deportation cases.

Sessions’ Quotas

Stressful people waiting for job interview

Armed with his mandate to cut down on illegal immigration, Sessions issued several quotas and goals for U.S. immigration judges. We’ll outline the two most important below.

700 Cases Per Year

In the spring of 2018, Sessions imposed a quota for the nation’s immigration judges. His quota was for each judge to see at least 700 cases per year.

Some applauded the use of a quota as a way for the cases to move through the system more quickly. However, many judges fear that the quota will force them to move through cases far quicker than they’d like.

Dozens More Immigration Judges by Fall 2018

In the last year, 82 new immigration judges have been sworn in under the new, streamlined hiring system. Sessions hopes to have an additional 75 new judges in place by the end of Fall 2018. Currently, there are 351 immigration judges in the justice department, with room for many more in the budget.

In the past, immigration judge approvals would take about 700 days. Under Sessions’ expedited system, the process now takes only around 250 days.

The Impact

Empty old courtroom.

Because of Jeff Sessions’ tougher immigration policies, illegal immigrants are more likely to appear before a judge for removal proceedings. Since the backlog for immigration cases was over 700,000 even before the tougher policies, the caseload will present a challenge for the U.S. court system.

Sessions’ plan is to hire hire dozens of new immigration judges with a faster, streamlined vetting time, and hope that this measure will be enough to take on the increased caseload.

However, as a side product of this hope the entire deportation process is beginning to speed up considerably. This is the primary way in which future deportation cases will be affected, as supported in other policy decisions such as the Matter of Castro-Tum decision, the Matter of L-A-B-R- order, and the Matter of A-B- decision from June.

Essentially, the whole process is going to start moving much faster, with less room for error and discovery. For that reason, it is highly recommended that immigrants in deportation proceedings hire an immigration attorney as soon as possible.

Especially with the recent changes, time is of the essence, as from here on out the process will most likely become much quicker due to the expectation that judges meet these very specific quotas.

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