U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions implored immigration courts across the country on Wednesday to review cases more efficiently, noting that the growing backlog of cases poses a challenge to the Trump administration’s efforts to crack down on undocumented immigration in the country.
Sessions sent a memo to the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the government agency in charge of conducting immigration court proceedings, which contained an outline of five “core principles” for EOIR staff to follow.
In it, Sessions requested immigration judges and related personnel to “increase productivity, enhance efficiencies, and ensure the timely and proper administration of justice” insofar as their methods nonetheless remain “consistent with the law” and the values he had provided.
The EOIR already has an ongoing project targeting case review efficiency in place known as the “Caseload Reduction Plan,” intended to gear the agency towards resolving cases at a more productive pace all the while setting up to be capable of receiving more cases. The plan features a set of reforms doing away with policies believed to be causing agency inefficiencies.
Manpower was quickly identified as one such weakness in the system. The Trump administration has so far installed 50 new immigration judges while 60 more are expected to join the pool over the next six months. Such a measure is expected to halve the more than 600,000 pending cases in backlog by 2020.
In the memo, Sessions also released EOIR data for immigration activities under the Trump administration thus far.
Orders of removal and voluntary departures have in total increased by 34 percent
Total final decisions have increased by 16.6 percent since 2016
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), however, reports removing only 226,000 illegal immigrants from the country in the 2017 fiscal year – resulting in a 6 percent decrease since 2016 and fewer deportations than at any point during the Obama administration.
The disconnect between the statistics can be largely attributed to the steady decrease of illegal entries into the country as well as a court backlog slowing down the overall deportation of undocumented immigrants.
Immigrants who claim that their lives would be threatened should they return to their home countries or can otherwise justify their stay in the U.S. are entitled by U.S. policy to be heard by an immigration judge. The number of immigrants opting for this method of staying in the country has slowed down deportation efforts as a whole, prompting Sessions and the EOIR to take immediate action.
If you, or a loved one, are facing a deportation case, don’t be afraid to learn about your rights and legal options. Sit down for a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices today to learn more about how we can help you.