Department of Justice imposes quota for immigration judges to speed up deportations

Department of Justice imposes quota for immigration judges to speed up deportations

The Justice Department will be implementing a new quota system to federal immigration judges' performance reviews, reports the WSJ, under which judges will be expected to clear 700 cases to receive a "satisfactory" rating.

In its guidelines, the justice department said that setting an annual minimum on the number cases processed will ensure that hearings are completed in a "timely, efficient and effective manner".

Justice Department spokesman Devin O'Malley tells The Washington Post that most judges process 678 cases a year, so having to complete 700 is "not that big of a lift".

The Trump administration has introduced production quotas for immigration judges in an effort to reduce enormous court backlogs, raising concern among judges and attorneys that decisions may be unfairly rushed.

Judges can argue that the nature of their cases justifies a lower completion rate, but Marks said keeping logs will add to their work burden and potentially create more backlog.

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

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United States law gives the attorney general broad and substantial power to oversee and overrule these courts, as opposed to the civil and criminal USA justice system, which is an independent branch of government.

Also, the document includes other criteria such as the "penalty of those who refer more than 15% of certain cases to higher courts, or judges who schedule hearing dates far apart on their calendar", which would put at risk even the lives of those who, for example, are applying for asylum and their lives are in danger if they are returned to their country of origin.

Immigration courts are now experience a backlog of over 684,000 cases, according to a Syracuse University tracker. They were announced Friday in an email from the Executive Office of Immigration Review, the DOJ office that houses the immigration courts.

It added that due process could not be "meted out on a schedule, but requires judges to use their expertise on a case-by-case basis to move cases as fairly and efficiently as possible".

Retired longtime immigration judge Paul Schmidt, a staunch critic of the administration, says immigration judges will get the message from the Justice Department.

The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), which represents immigration judges in the USA, has warned that the new quotas will "put due process at risk and threaten judicial independence". The EOIR also imposed measures such as the amount of time judges should spend on different types of cases and court motions.

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