Immigration Judges sent to California Border Immigration Centers

Credit:Chris Ryan
Credit:Chris Ryan

(ESPAÑOL) Immigration judges are being temporarily transferred to six detention centers on California’s border. The judges are being sent to the state’s border with Mexico in anticipation of putting president Trump’s directives into effect.

The judges will be transferred to four locations in Texas and one each in Louisiana and New Mexico effective Monday, according to the department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. Judges were previously moved to two immigration centers in California in preparation of this relocation.

The severe understaffing of immigration courts has received less attention from the presidential administration than the construction of the wall on the border with Mexico and the hiring of 5,000 Border Patrol agents and 10,000 Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers and agents. There was a backlog of 542, 646 cases in the country at the end of January, along with 20,856 people held in custody and awaiting trial.

However, the president’s executive order calls for a 19-percent increase in immigration judges to 449 positions for the fiscal year of 2018.

The executive order is currently transferring the judges who would be hearing these cases to detention centers. Jeremy McKinney, an NC attorney and board member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said this transfer means longer wait times for people currently not detained, with families and detainees seeing their cases postponed until 2021 and their lives placed in legal limbo. The delays are caused by judges being taken away from their locations and caseloads, which would inevitably delay their already-overwhelming backlog.

Even the budgetary increases might prove to be ineffective. There are currently about 300 judges, even though the office is funded for 374 slots, with 50 applicants currently in the hiring process which might take up to twelve months to complete. This could mean that the issue for the shortage in immigration courts and judges might not be job availability, but other concerns about the attractiveness of the job which hinders the system.