Think back to 2010. Feels like a long time ago, doesn’t it?  So many things have changed: the Affordable Care Act, Congress, and the President.  While many things have changed, some for the better, our immigration courts have taken a turn for the worse.  In fact, our immigration courts suffer from ballooning backlogs and increasing obstacles to due process.

The American Bar Association (ABA) is showing us this week, in black and white, where we are today and how much we will need before justice is served in our immigration system. The ABA thinks there’s been little progress since 2010:

“The 2010 Report highlighted some innovations, but primarily found that America’s removal system, from first encounter to last, lacked sufficient safeguards to ensure efficiency, fairness, and due process…. The 2010 Report offered numerous recommendations for improving aspects of the system …. Unfortunately, most of the reform efforts never came to fruition.”

I completely agree. In my practice, I see insult added to injury every day. Immigration judges no longer have the ability to administratively close cases so that they could be resolved by another agency, such as USCIS or a consulate outside the country. My 10-year-old client, the child of a crime victim, was ordered removed because the parent’s “U-Visa” petition was taking too long to adjudicate. Another client was given a “fake date” on her Notice to Appear (NTA) as part of the government’s effort to avoid compliance with a recent decision by the Supreme Court, in Pereira, which mandates the government must provide a date and place so that the client has notice of when to actually be in court.

The 2019 ABA report shines a light on the problems with the system and offers suggestions for reform.  Chief among these is the recommendation that our “immigration courts be transferred into an independent court system established under Article I of the Constitution.” I cannot overstate the importance of such a restructuring, which AILA also champions. The current immigration court system does not adequately ensure due process, and it fosters a legal process which, more often than not, is not full, not fair, and not impartial. Now, more than ever, we need Congress to step up and enact legislation that creates truly independent immigration courts.  Join AILA’s call for an Article I immigration court system by contacting your member of Congress today and come to Washington on April 11 for AILA’s National Day of Action when 600 immigration lawyers will bring our message to Capitol Hill. In the words of Sandra Day O’Connor, “the key to the rule of law is an impartial judiciary.” That is what we need to bring fairness and functionality back to the immigration court system.

The road to #immigration court reform won’t be easy, but it’s necessary. In this @AILANational blog post @McKJeremy highlights @ABAesq’s new report, a step in the right direction to addressing the inefficiencies of the current system. Click To Tweet From new policies that add to the #InvisibleWall, to practices that limit judges’ judicial independence, our #immigration court system is ripe for reform. AILA Treasurer @McKJeremy shares his experience in the system, and echoes @ABAesq’s call for… Click To Tweet