US immigration judges told to process 700 cases a year

USA Immigration Court
About 600,000 people are waiting to have their immigration cases heard.

The US justice department is to set increase pressure on immigration judges in an attempt to speed up the processing of cases, US media report.

Judges will need to clear at least 700 cases a year in order to receive a “satisfactory” performance rating.

But critics warn the plan could see hearings rushed through the courts in a move that may compromise due process.

An estimated 600,000 people are waiting to have their immigration cases heard in US courts.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been working on introducing new policies in an effort to help clear this backlog.

On Sunday, President Trump urged Republicans in Congress to pass “tough” new anti-immigration legislation.

He also reasserted his opposition to legalising the status of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children.

In its guidelines, the justice department said that setting an annual minimum on the number cases processed will ensure that hearings are completed in a “timely, efficient and effective manner”.

Department spokesman Devin O’Malley said judges completed an average of 678 cases a year, but some judges completed more than 1,000 cases, the Washington Post reported.

But the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) told the Post that the system could lead to legal challenges.

“It could call into question the integrity and impartiality of the court if a judge’s decision is influenced by factors outside the facts of the case, or if motions are denied out of a judge’s concerned about keeping his or her job,” NAIJ President Ashley Tabaddor said.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) told the Daily Beast website that judges should not be put under undue pressure to clear the backlog of cases.

“We’re very concerned that cases will be rushed through the system and due process will be circumvented with these new quotas,” AILA Senior Policy Counsel Laura Lynch said.


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