Immigration Law

Immigration judges are leaving because the job is 'unbearable,' union says

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Dozens of immigration judges have left or retired because of concerns about judicial independence, according to their union and judges who spoke with the Los Angeles Times.

The job has become “unbearable,” according to A. Ashley Tabaddor, a Los Angeles immigration judge who is president of the judges’ union, the National Association of Immigration Judges.

Tabaddor tells the Los Angeles Times that judges are especially concerned about a quota system that requires each judge to close at least 700 cases a year. Former judges tell the Los Angeles Times it is impossible to provide due process for immigrants under such a system.

In the fiscal year that ended in September, 45 immigration judges left their positions; however, it’s unclear how many quit because of dissatisfaction with their jobs.

The immigration courts could not provide numbers on how many of the judges left because of planned retirements or promotions to the immigration appeals board. Some of the vacancies could also have been the result of deaths.

Despite the departures, the number of immigration judges is rising as the Trump administration adds judges to address a backlog in immigration cases, according to the article. Between 2016 and 2019, the total number of judges rose from 289 to 442.

A House judiciary subcommittee will hold a hearing Wednesday on judicial independence and due process in immigration courts. The ABA has called on Congress to establish an independent court immigration system outside the control of the U.S. Justice Department.

ABA President Judy Perry Martinez will testify at the hearing, according to a press release.

Subsequent coverage: “ABA president calls for creation of independent immigration courts, criticizes ‘remain in Mexico’ policy”

See also: “ABA joins other legal organizations in calling for independent immigration courts”

ABA Journal: “Sweeping reforms are needed for ‘broken’ immigration system, ABA report finds”

ABA Journal: “Whose Court Is This Anyway? Immigration judges accuse executive branch of politicizing their courts”

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