ABA Calls For Creation Of Separate Immigration Courts

Immigration Detention Handcuffs

Asylum hearings are “like holding death penalty cases in traffic court.”

That’s what San Francisco immigration judge Dana Marks, who also serves as president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told The New York Times, as part of an article discussing the ABA’s call to Congress to create a new and independent court for immigration cases.

Immigration courts suffer under an increasing backlog of cases, a by product of the increased effort of the Homeland Security department to identify illegal immigrants.

The stakes of immigration cases are of course quite high — deportation is a potential outcome, and cases that involve issues of asylum where immigrants fear abuse or execution in their home countries cannot easily be disposed of. The cost of the aforementioned backlog is high — detainees are often held in expensive detention facilities while they await hearing.

Immigration judges — who are not judges in the conventional sense but instead employees of the Department of Justice — handle three times the case load of federal district judges, the article said.

NYT: Behind the seemingly arcane proposal was a portrait of the nation’s immigration courts besieged with new cases arising from an intensified federal crackdown on illegal immigration, and challenged by critics who doubt the courts’ impartiality…

The immigration courts are not courts at all in the way Americans generally think of them. They are part of the Department of Justice, not the federal judiciary, and the judges, although they wear robes and sit in formal courtrooms, are employees of the attorney general.

Read the full story here.

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