The Department of Justice will be implementing a new performance metrics for immigration judges on October 1, 2018. The Justice Department official said the new metrics will require immigration judges to complete three cases per workday. The average cases completed per year by immigration judges, per the official, is fewer than 680. The new metric will require judges to complete 700 cases per year. Completing fewer than 560 cases per year would result in the judge being evaluated at the “unsatisfactory” level. Many worry that immigration judges will be forced to adjudicate cases more quickly, rush immigrant defendants through the system without the opportunity to obtain an immigration attorney, without an opportunity to present evidence or to present their claim in a manner that’s appropriate with due process.
The requirement to complete a removal/deportation in cases in 3 days from the hearing where the immigrant is detained (10 days when the immigrant is not detained) is nearly impossible for an immigration attorney. The immigrant defendant and attorney cannot gather evidence to support a claim for relief and file documents in court in 3 days or even 10 days. Usually when an immigrant is detained, an immigration judge can complete the case in 30 days – giving the government attorney and immigrant defendant reasonable time to gather evidence and present oral testimony. These new performance metrics for immigration judges is putting a place a new system that will generate more appeals and strip defendants of a fair opportunity to fully prepare and present this case in court (a right referred to a due process).
Immigration judges are considered Department of Justice (“DOJ”) attorneys, despite their title. With this new performance matrix, the DOJ has stripped immigration courts of any remaining independence by implementing strict quotas as part of immigration judges’ performance evaluations.The DOJ retains ultimate control over an immigration judge’s employment and his/her decisions. For now, however, the institution of these quotas by the Department of Justice attempts to keep immigration judges in line with the administration’s goal of speedy removal of immigrants, with the threat that their performance appraisals, and thus, their careers, will be negatively impacted if they fail to comply with requirements.
According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions “. . . [a]liens who enter our country illegally should be aware that the government will use any and all lawful tools, including expedited removal and prompt immigration proceedings, to ensure that our immigration courts will not be burdened with cases that lack merit under the law.” Obviously, at the heart of these quotas is a sinister and discriminatory goal—that of the speedy removal of a specific group of immigrants whose cases the DOJ has prejudged as meritless.