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Independent Judiciary Push Continues

The Push For An Independent Immigration
Court System Continues

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To the public, the concept of an independent judiciary seems commonplace.

Immigration insiders, however, are accustomed to a quite different scenario.

Immigration courts are not independent.

This has led, not merely in appearance, to a widespread belief among immigrants, immigrant rights advocates, and immigration lawyers that the deportation system is rigged.

Not exactly an ideal situation in such a hotly contested area of law.

Immigration Judges’ Union Wants Courts Independent Of Justice Department
CBS Local, August 27, 2014

The federal immigration court system should be separated from the Justice Department and operated independently of federal law enforcement, the top two leaders of the immigration judges’ union said Wednesday.

Judge Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, said immigration judges act as arbiters in deportation cases being argued by Homeland Security Department lawyers but judges also are treated as attorneys for the government.

As employees of DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, Marks said, the judges’ dual roles can potentially blur the lines for judges who are supposed to act as neutral arbiters in a complicated court system.

“Our goal is to serve as a neutral court, but paradoxically we are housed in a law enforcement agency,” Marks said.

 

As an immigration trial attorney, I know firsthand that the idea of an independent immigration judiciary is long, long overdue.

Would independence alone offset the absence of neutrality, impartiality, and due process in immigration court proceedings?

Of course not.

But the odds of these characteristics showing up more frequently in immigration hearings and deportation trials would be likely.

There are several other problems which have been hoisted upon the immigration bench, in large part due to Congressional neglect and administrative politics, including massive overcrowding, excessive delays, staffing shortages, and antiquated equipment.

The longer immigration courts remain the forgotten step-children of the overall immigration system, the larger these issues will become.

Ironically, these negative factors are good reasons to support the push for a change to judicial independence.

 

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