Overloaded Immigration Courts Efforts to Hire More Immigration Judges Falls Short
Question: I am in Immigration Court deportation proceedings. The Immigration Judge was rude and disrespectful to me. He made me feel small, insignificant and embarrassed to simply be in his courtroom. He was issuing his decision not based upon the merits of my case, but because he wanted to get to lunch before 12:00 p.m. I find this appalling. Is there anything I can do?
Answer: Actually, the Department of Justice through the Attorney General has acknowledged the unprofessional conduct of many Immigration Judges and has had his department do an analysis not only on the Immigration Judges, but the members of the Board of Immigration Appeals as well.
The Department of Justice will implement new measures to enhance the performance of the Immigration Courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced in remarks at the Immigration Judges’ Training Conference. The announcement comes after the completion of a comprehensive review of the Immigration Courts and the Board that was initiated by the Attorney General in January 2006, following reports of judges failing to display temperament and produce work that meets the Department’s standards. Based on the results of the review, the Attorney General directed the implementation of 22 new measures. “The review has left me reassured of the talent and professionalism that exists in the Immigration Courts and at the Board of Immigration Appeals,” said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
Question: What are some of the new measures?
Answer: The new measures include the following key reforms needed to improve the performance and quality of work of the nation’s immigration court system, based on the findings of the review. The first of the reforms is the establishment of performance evaluations to enable EOIR leadership to review periodically the work and performance of each immigration judge and member of the Board of Immigration Appeals. Just as performance appraisal records are used elsewhere in the Justice Department to assess the work of personnel at all levels, EOIR performance evaluations will allow for identification of areas where an immigration judge or Board member may need improvement while fully respecting his or her role as an adjudicator. The evaluations will also include an assessment by EOIR’s Director during an immigration judge’s initial two-year trial period as to whether a new appointee possesses the appropriate judicial temperament and skills for the job and to take steps to improve that performance if needed. EOIR, working with the Office of Professional Responsibility and the Office of the Inspector General, will also conduct a review of its current complaint-handling procedures and develop a plan to standardize these procedures, clearly define the roles of the different offices charged with administering them, and ensure a timely and proportionate response to complaints.
To ensure that all immigration judges are proficient in the key principles of immigration law, the Attorney General has instructed EOIR to develop an examination testing for familiarity with these principles. Each newly appointed immigration judge and Board member appointed after December 31, 2006, will be required to pass the exam before he or she begins to adjudicate matters. Additional measures directed to improve judges’ performance include improved training for immigration judges, Board members, and EOIR staff.
We know that all immigrants are people that deserve respect and it is improper for Immigration Judges to use their power to denigrate those persons and to treat them in a sub-par manner. Hopefully, the Immigration Judges will see that they no longer be rude and disrespectful to those immigrants in deportation proceedings.