Statement of Former Immigration Judges and BIA Members in Response to Matter of L-A-B-R-

As former Immigration Judges and Members of the BIA with many decades of combined experience on the bench, we must expose the Attorney General’s latest blow to judicial independence in his decision in Matter of L-A-B-R-.

There is no question that the Immigration Courts are currently overwhelmed by a backlog of more than 700,000 pending cases.  Facing the imposition of unreasonable case completion quotas, many Immigration Judges presently feel forced to double-book hearings.  One of our members who recently left the bench states that judges at present may receive ten to fifteen motions for continuance a day.  Sessions’s latest decision would force each judge to write lengthy, highly detailed decisions for each of these while still trying to complete three or more full hearings a day.  Of course, the implementation of this latest decision is entirely unrealistic.  Furthermore, the decision imposes no such requirements in instances where DHS seeks a continuance (often for avoidable reasons such as its inability to locate the file or to have adjudicated a petition in time).

It should be remembered that many of the cases before the Immigration Courts involve individuals whose lives are at risk in their home countries.  As the President Emeritus of the group’s union has said, Immigration Judges hear death penalty cases under traffic court conditions.  In his decision, Sessions uses the words “efficient,” “efficiency,” or “inefficient” 12 times.  The word “justice” (other than in the name of the agency he heads, or as a job title) appears only once.

Immigration Judges should be treated as judges, and should be afforded the independent judgment that their position requires, including the basic power to control and prioritize their own case dockets.  While judges share the administration’s concern over the high volume of cases, they should be allowed a say in proposing solutions that will not infringe on their independent judgment or their ability to afford due process.

Hon. Steven Abrams

Hon. Sarah M. Burr

Hon. Jeffrey S. Chase

Hon. Bruce J. Einhorn

Hon. Cecelia M. Espenoza

Hon. Noel Ferris

Hon. John F. Gossart, Jr.

Hon. Rebecca Jamil

Hon. WIlliam P. Joyce

Hon. Carol King

Hon. Elizabeth A. Lamb

Hon. Margaret McManus

Hon. Charles Pazar

Hon. Lory D. Rosenberg

Hon. Susan G. Roy

Hon. Paul W. Schmidt

Hon. William Van Wyke

Hon. Polly A. Webber

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