Immigration Judges in U.S. Get Quota for Clearing Cases
The United States Department of Justice has set the number of case completions for immigration judges at 700 cases per year.
The United States Department of Justice will now assess immigration judges on how fast they can process a case and close it. The number of cases will be linked to their annual performance reviews. A memo stating the new quotas for immigration judges was sent to them on March 30, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The number of case completions for immigration judges has been set to 700 cases per year, along with other performance goals, according to the memo, the CNN reported. All goals will be measured annually, from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. The new move has been made to hasten the deportation decisions and cut down on tedious backlogs.
The decision has been criticized by advocates and judges alike, who feel that it will hamper the fairness of the court and lead to more people being deported, CNN reported. The Justice Department, however, said that the measure has been taken to enhance the system.
“These performance metrics, which were agreed to by the immigration judge union that is now condemning them, are designed to increase productivity and efficiency in the system without compromising due process,” an official from the Justice Department said about the memo, according to CNN.
The new system has also stipulated additional targets like penalizing judges who refer more than 15 per cent of certain cases to higher courts, or judges who slot dates of hearing too many days apart on their calendars.
On an average, immigration judges complete 678 cases in a year, while some of them even completed well over 1,000 cases, Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said. “The big takeaway is that this is the equivalent of completing three cases a day, so it’s not that big of a lift,” O’Malley said, according to the Washington Post.
Immigration judges as well as advocates’ union are, however, against the changes. According to them, placing a limit on the time invested by judges on a case and the number of cases they should clear in a span of a year could risk the due process.
“Creating an environment where the courts care more about the speed than the accuracy, and where judges are evaluated and even rewarded based on quantity rather than quality is unacceptable and a violation of due process,” Laura Lynch, a senior policy counsel with the American Immigration Lawyers Association, was quoted as saying by CNN.
Lynch added that the results of the new move could be big, especially in cases where a person applying for asylum may be victimized in their home countries. The decision by the judges could put the lives of such people in jeopardy.
“We don’t know of any other court whose judges are subject to individual quotas and deadlines as part of performance reviews and evaluations,” judge Ashley Tabaddor, the president of the National Assn. of Immigration Judges, said, according to the Washington Post.