The Need for an Independent Immigration Court Grows More Urgent As DOJ Imposes Quotas on Immigration Judges

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) begins implementing case completion quotas as part of the performance review process for immigration judges, requiring them to finish 700 cases per year or face disciplinary action. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), in voicing its opposition to these quotas, renewed its call for the creation of an independent Article I immigration court.

AILA President Anastasia Tonello stated, “After gutting the authority of immigration judges to continue, administratively close, terminate or dismiss cases through a series of precedent-setting decisions, today the Attorney General implements a policy that will force judges to choose between guaranteeing justice or losing their jobs. With a clock constantly ticking over their heads, judges cannot possibly issue well-reasoned decisions that carefully weigh the facts and applicable law in each person’s case. This policy further undermines due process and the principle of judicial independence and will subject immigrants who come to the court expecting fairness to an assembly line system.”

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson urged action, “One very deep flaw in our immigration court system is that the Attorney General, who oversees immigration prosecutions in federal courts, also has the power to decide the law and rules judges must follow and has the power to fire those who don’t comply. That’s why Congress can delay no longer in conducting rigorous oversight of the courts and establishing an independent immigration court system outside of the control of the DOJ. More than 1,000 AILA members are submitting a letter to Attorney General Sessions calling for the creation of this court under Article I of the Constitution, which would safeguard judicial integrity and impartiality while protecting America’s core values. Justice demands nothing less.”