Coast to coast, immigration judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys are straining to decipher how the federal immigration rules released in February by the Trump administration will impact the system — amid an already burgeoning backlog of existing cases.
The new guidelines, part of President Trump's campaign promise to crack down on illegal immigration, give enforcement agents greater rein to deport immigrants without hearings and detain those who entered the country without permission.
But that ambitious policy shift faces a tough hurdle: an immigration court system already juggling more than a half-million cases and ill-equipped to take on thousands more.
“We're at critical mass,” said Linda Brandmiller, a San Antonio immigration attorney who works with juveniles. “There isn’t an empty courtroom. We don’t have enough judges. You can say you’re going to prosecute more people, but from a practical perspective, how do you make that happen?”
[Trump's New Rules Could Swamp Already Backlogged Immigration Courts, by Rick Jervis, Alan Gomez and Gustavo Solis, USA TODAY, April 17, 217]
The reason for the problem of a court backlog is so much in the numbers of illegal aliens in the EOIR system, but the fact that immigration judges are not doing their job. Instead of holding hearings and making decisions, the article inadvertently reveals that immigration judges spend their days rescheduling hearings for illegal aliens.
One immigration judge refuses to hold hearings for the recipients of the Obama Children's Jihad on the border. He just continually reschedules hearing for fraudulent asylum claims.
In San Antonio, an immigration judge breezes through more than 20 juvenile cases a day, warning those in the packed courtroom to show up at their next hearing — or risk deportation.
In Miami, a kritarch doesn't like the hard work of making decisions and reschedules an obvious case for deportation as there is no legal avenue for relief:
In another courtroom, Judge Rico Sogocio rescheduled until September the hearing of a young Haitian man to give him time to find an attorney. Through a Creole translator, the man asked the judge what would happen if he gets picked up by enforcement agents before then.
In San Antonio two immigration judges do no work other than reschedule cases.
On a recent afternoon, Judge Anibal Martinez heard case after case of juvenile immigrants seeking asylum. They were from Honduras, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico.
Martinez smiled at the youngsters and, through an interpreter, thanked them for their patience. Of the 25 juveniles listed on the docket, just four had legal representation. About half of the kids didn’t show up.
“You’ve been excellent in bringing your daughter to court today,” the judge told one woman. “But if she misses the next hearing, I may order her removal in absentia. Whether or not you have an attorney, you must show up.” The mom nodded in agreement.
Anibal Martinez thinks her job is not to review the law and apply it to aliens, but reschedule hearings in an effort to give illegal aliens a stronger claim to residency by endless delays, then claim that they've been here so long they have become "Americans."
A floor below Martinez, in Courtroom 4, Judge Daniel Santander called adult cases until all 20 had been heard in the course of a morning. He spent just a few minutes on each; most were rescheduled for later dates.
And the ubiquitous Dana Leigh Marks, union representative for immigration judges, wants more money rather than having to actually work:
Meanwhile, the cases mount. The backlog at immigration courts has spiked over the past decade as resources poured into immigration enforcement, said Judge Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges...
“There is concern and frustration” among the judges about the latest guidelines, Marks said. “The people in the field are feeling very disconnected from the decision-makers and are not aware of much, if any, of the specifics of how these broad, aspirational goals will be implemented.”
Marks is clearly upset she may have to start denying the fraudulent claims of illegal aliens and start actually doing her job of ordering deportations, because she wants to run her own amnesty rather than follow the orders of the President or the Attorney General.
However, there is a solution. Immigration judges are employees of the Executive Branch and are under the discipline of the Attorney General. AG Jeff Sessions can take immediate action, instructing judges to ignore requests for postponing hearings and immediately hear the cases and make decisions. And it has been done before, as this writer reported in 2014.[This Is Not The First Border Crisis. No New Laws Needed—Reagan Administration Did Fine in 1988, by Federale, VDare, July 17, 2014] All it takes is AG Sessions giving orders to the Chief Immigration Judge to subordinate immigration judges to expeditiously hear cases and to only reschedule cases with the concurrence of the Chief Immigration Judge. Immigration judges think they are real judges, but they aren't. They are under adult supervision.
Time for AG Sessions to enforce that supervision, force immigration judges to do the work that is assigned to them, and see that the immigration laws are enforced.