U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions published a memo last week that actually touts the fact that immigration courts have seen sharp increases in deportation orders.
On December 6, the Department of Justice released the memo from Sessions on the state of the immigration courts. The immigration courts, called the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), are a part of the Justice Department.
Normally included in a positive report on improvements in a court system is commentary on the standards for showing improvement in increases in courthouse accessibility, reductions in waiting times and inconveniences for those using the courts, and improved professionalism. Reading the new report from the attorney general, you can’t help but think that the only measure Jeff Sessions uses is the number of deportations.
The first two statistics highlighted by the press release issued with the memo trumpet an increase in removal, aka deportation, orders up 30 percent and an increase in combined removal orders and voluntary departures increasing 34 percent. That is only good news if these were fairly adjudicated cases, but there is no indication of that in the words that Jeff Sessions and his aides wrote.
Just imagine a criminal court advertising that it had a 30 percent increase in felony convictions. The first question you would have to ask yourself is why a court would think that its role was to increase the percentage of convictions. A district attorney might brag about that sort of a statistic, but a court is supposed to treat all parties fairly and not fall down on the side of the prosecution.
With courtroom delays mushrooming during the Trump administration due to frequent transfers of judges from cities like New York to the Southwestern Border, the Attorney General puts the blame for the confusion in the courts on immigration lawyers.
According to an annex to the memo, “representatives of illegal aliens have purposely used tactics designed to delay the adjudication of their clients’ cases.” The report never says what these tactics are, and offers no substantiation of the charge. Most lawyers want to move their cases along as quickly as possible. For private attorneys, that is how they get paid.
The immigration courts are supposed to provide impartial justice for immigrants. Jeff Sessions should stop interfering with judges trying to meet that statutory and Constitutional mandate. He needs to highlight more than deportation statistics.