Archive

ShareThis Page
Sessions: Immigration judges must be efficient with backlog | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

Sessions: Immigration judges must be efficient with backlog

The Associated Press
| Monday, September 10, 2018 8:06 p.m.
217506217506e5064cceeeb54c8cafa354179c78b466
Attorney General Jeff Sessions greets new immigration judges after outlining Trump administration policies, in Falls Church, Va., Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. Immigration judges work for the Justice Department and are not part of the Judicial branch of government. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
217506217506b0f94f7d1fd74efbb185837ae3c6dbe1
New immigration judges listen as Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlines Trump administration policies, in Falls Church, Va., Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. Immigration judges work for the Justice Department and are not part of the Judicial branch of government. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
2175062175068f57848cc1734a6ead152f43ef68a265
Attorney General Jeff Sessions outlines Trump administration policies as he speaks to new immigration judges, in Falls Church, Va., Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. Immigration judges work for the Justice Department and are not part of the Judicial branch of government. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

FALLS CHURCH, Va. — Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a group of new immigration judges Monday they have an obligation to decide cases efficiently in a system besieged by ballooning dockets and lengthy backlogs.

Speaking to the group of 44 new judges — the largest class of immigration judges in U.S. history — Sessions told them they must keep “our federal laws functioning effectively, fairly, and consistently.”

The attorney general has pushed for faster rulings in immigration cases and issued directives preventing judges from administratively closing cases, which has reignited a debate about the independence of immigration judges, who work for the Justice Department and are not part of the judicial branch.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department sent a memo to immigration judges telling them they would need to clear at least 700 cases a year in order to receive a “satisfactory” rating on their performance evaluations.

On Monday, the attorney general also reiterated the Trump administration’s plan to increase the number of immigration judges by 50 percent compared to the number of judges when Trump took office last year.

James McHenry, the director of the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, said the department would “keep hiring until we run out of space or money.”

Sessions cautioned the jurists will face challenges because “we have a lot to do right now.”

“As you take on this critically important role, I hope that you will be imaginative and inventive in order to manage a high-volume caseload,” he said. “I do not apologize for expecting you to perform, at a high level, efficiently and effectively.”

Sessions said the system for seeking asylum in the U.S. has been “abused for years” and while the judges must respect the rights of immigrants they should also “reject unjustified and sometimes blatantly fake claims.”

Sessions also defended the government’s “zero tolerance” policy to prosecute people illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, which he said will deter others from doing the same.

“Our U.S. Attorneys are prosecuting over 90 percent of those cases referred to us. It’s a two to threefold increase – and it has some deterrent effect,” he said.

The U.S. government separated more than 2,500 children from their parents this year as the Trump administration adopted a “zero-tolerance” policy on illegal immigration. On June 20, Trump reversed course amid an international outcry and said families should remain together. As of last week, more than 300 parents remained separated from their children.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.