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Immigration Law

BREAKING: Sessions Imposes Quotas on Immigration Judges

Laura Meckler, Wall Street Journal, Apr. 2, 2018 - "The Justice Department has notified immigration judges [here and here] that it will begin evaluating their job performance based on how quickly they close cases, aiming to speed deportation decisions and reduce a lengthy backlog. The new quotas for judges to meet—laid out in a memo sent Friday to immigration judges—follow other directives by the department to expedite handling of cases. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said that the backlog at the immigration courts allows people who should be deported to linger inside the U.S. The union representing immigration judges counters that the metrics are a threat to their judicial independence, while lawyers warn they will unduly influence judge’s decisions. The new standards, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, are to take effect for the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. ... Under the new quotas, judges will be required to complete 700 cases a year and to see fewer than 15% of their decisions sent back by a higher court. Over the past five years, the average judge completed 678 cases in a year, said Justice Department spokesman Devin O’Malley. But there was a range, he said, with some judges completing as many as 1,500 cases in a year. In addition, they will be required to meet other metrics, depending on their particular workload. One standard demands that 85% of removal cases for people who are detained be completed within three days of a hearing on the merits of the case. Another metric demands that 95% of all merits hearings be completed on the initial scheduled hearing date. Immigration attorneys and the union that represents judges warned the rules would pressure judges to resolve cases quickly at the expense of hearing out evidence that could help defendants trying to stay in the U.S. “This is a recipe for disaster,” said A. Ashley Tabaddor, an immigration judge in Los Angeles who is president of the National Association of Immigration Judges. “You are going to, at minimum, impact the perception of the integrity of the court.” "

Tal Kopan at CNN has more here.

In an email to, the Hon. Dana Leigh Marks, President Emeritus, National Association of Immigration Judges, said, "DOJ is grossly misrepresenting NAIJ's complicity in this ill-advised, if not illegal, debacle."

On his blog,, the Hon. Paul W. Schmidt, former BIA Chairman, said, "Contrary to the DOJ’s claim, the National Association of Immigration Judges (“NAIJ”) never agreed to these so-called “performance metrics.” I was actually part of the NAIJ team that negotiated the existing performance evaluation system.  We were assured by management at that time that while non-binding “goals and timetables” might be developed by the agency as informal guidance, they were not “numerical quotas” and would not be used in determining individual performance."