Washington, .- The system of immigration courts needs a restructuring that guarantees its independence and allows to meet the delays in the attention of cases, which went from about 262,000 in 2010 to 760,000 in December 2018, revealed today a report released by a group of experts.
“The state of the immigration court system in the United States has worsened considerably since our 2010 report,” says the document, prepared by the American Bar Association (ABA).
The text, called “Reforming the immigration system, proposals to promote independence, equity, efficiency and professionalization in the adjudication of cases of removal”, updates another prepared nine years ago.
The ABA warns that there are “numerous problems that impede due process and fair administration of justice in the immigration court system.”
These include the hiring of staff, the accumulation of arrears, “inconsistent decision patterns (particularly with respect to asylum adjudications) and the adoption of videoconferencing technologies that prevented fair hearings.”
The investigation identified three “systemic problems” facing immigration courts: the “lack of judicial independence and political interference,” the policies and practices that threaten due process, and a lack of resources they describe as “long-standing and widespread.” .
The study, which covers the first two years of management of Donald Trump and the government of his predecessor, Barack Obama (2009-2017), is concerned about “recent events”, including “specific executive policies and practices that exert levels of control unprecedented on immigration judges and their job performance, “which have undermined not only trust but judicial independence.
“The independence that has been undermined in the past nine years is due to the ever-changing direction of the executive branch, and each administration has used immigration tribunals as an extension of the enforcement mechanisms of immigration law by adjusting enforcement priorities. to align with the prevailing political agenda “, he emphasizes.
In this context, the study notes that “immigration judges are in the untenable position of swearing to defend judicial standards of fairness and equity and be subject to what appear to be politically motivated performance standards.”
To illustrate this case, the report refers to a provision of the Department of Justice in force since last October, which sets among the conditions to achieve a satisfactory performance rating that judges complete “700 cases per year.”
And on the number of pending cases, the research points out that they have increased “to unprecedented levels”, going from around 262,000 at the time of the 2010 evaluation, to more than 760,000 in December, although it does not rule out that they will reach add another 330,000 that could be returned to active records.
The experts also noted as “a particularly worrisome fact” since its last evaluation “the emergence of a new policy for the detention of families and unaccompanied children”.
In this regard, they indicated that in mid-2014, “as conditions in Central America became increasingly violent, thousands of children and families traveled to the US in search of protection,” to which the Government “responded with programs aimed at discouraging family migration and unaccompanied child migration “.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “quickly built or converted facilities to hold women and children for long periods of time,” explains the study, which recalls that both the ABA, as well as government agencies and international organizations “have criticized the policy and the conditions of family detention “(EFEUSA)