(ESPAÑOL) The Trump administration plans to impose case completion quotas on immigration judges tied to their annual performance reviews, according to new Justice Department directives.
The judges will be expected to clear at least 700 cases a year to receive a “satisfactory” performance rating, a standard that their union called an “unprecedented” step that risks undermining judicial independence and opens the courts to potential challenges.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has promised to stiffen immigration enforcement partly by moving more aggressively to clear a backlog of more than 600,000 cases pending before the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the federal court system that adjudicates immigration cases.
Some immigrants facing deportation wait years for a court date, but they are typically authorized to work in the United States to support themselves during that time, an arrangement that critics view as an incentive to illegal immigration.
According to a copy of the guidelines, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, the purpose of the new quota system will be to ensure “cases are completed in a timely, efficient, and effective manner.” The system sets up additional bench marks, penalizing those who refer more than 15 percent of certain cases to higher courts, or judges who schedule hearing dates too far apart on their calendars.
Immigration judges complete 678 cases in an average year, said Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley, but he said some judges clear well over 1,000.
“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 in an interview.
Immigration cases can vary widely in complexity and the length of time required to adjudicate them. O’Malley said that judges who fail to meet their quotas can appeal to supervisors if their numbers fall short of the Justice Department’s expediency goals.