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Brief #46 Immigration

Policy Summary

On Monday, April 2, the Justice Department announced that it will be instating quotas for immigration judges to fill in order to process cases faster. Immigration judges will be expected to clear a minimum of 700 cases per year in order to keep their jobs. Of these 700 some cases, judges can only refer 15% or less of cases to higher courts, which typically prolongs the process of deportation in the event that an immigrant is to be removed from the country. On top of these measures, judges will be penalized if they schedule cases too far apart from one another.

These new measures are part of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ promise to tighten immigration enforcement and clear a backlog of 600,000 pending cases at the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EIOR). Director of EOIR James McHenry said the quota will “encourage efficient and effective case management while preserving immigration judge discretion and due process.”


The first concern raised by the implementation of quotas is a judge’s ability to remain impartial during court cases. Judges worry that due process will be violated if they are rushing through cases merely to receive a ‘satisfactory’ on an annual review. Justice is undermined when judges are pressured to meet metrics backed by anti-immigrant sentiments, which is precisely what Attorney General Sessions has championed as the country’s chief law enforcement officer and throughout his decades-long career in the Senate.

Equally concerning, immigrant judges and advocates alike feel that the implementation of the quota was created solely to rush the deportation of all immigrants going through Immigration Court, regardless of what circumstances brought them to the United States and what they’ve contributed to the fabric of the country’s economy and culture since arriving in the US.

It won’t be surprising if immigration judges pushback on this new measure given the legal implications and complications that could arise from instating quotas, but for now the implementation stands.

Engagement Resources

Support the National Immigrant Justice Center: Immigrant Justice protects human rights and provides access to justice for all immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. A project of the Heartland Alliance, a Chicago-based nonprofit working in the areas of health, housing, and human care, Immigrant Justice champions the human rights of immigrants through providing quality, low-cost legal services, improving the immigrant legal system simultaneously. Learn how you can help advance Immigrant Justice’s work here.

Show Your Solidarity with The New Americans Campaign: The New Americans Campaign is a national, nonpartisan network of immigrant organizations, legal service providers, faith-based organizations, faith-based organizations, immigrant rights groups, foundations, and community leaders. A project by the Immigration Legal Resource Center, the campaign is committed to connecting lawful permanent residents to trusted legal assistance. Click here to support the campaign.

Stay Informed with the National Association of Immigrant Judges: NAIJ is a voluntary organization of the United States Immigration Judges. The mission of NAIJ is to promote independence and enhance the professionalism, dignity, and efficiency of Immigrant Courts. To stay up-to-date on all things related to Immigration Court news, check out to the NAIJ news page.

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