Former President Barack Obama was known as the “deporter-in-chief” after deporting more people during his presidency than any of his predecessors. Through one year of his extremely pro-deportation successor Donald Trump’s presidency, deportations were actually down 6 percent, although ICE arrests skyrocketed during the same period, for an increase of 42 percent.
The huge increase in arrests has exacerbated an already sizable backlog in immigration cases. The Justice Department’s solution to this problem? If you guessed “a fair and speedy path to citizenship for undocumented people given the runaround by an impossible immigration system,” you were wrong. The correct answer was “quotas for immigration judges.”
The Wall Street Journal reports that new Justice Department guidelines will tie the numbers of processed cases to immigration judges’ “annual performance reviews”:
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.
Under the new guidelines, judges are expected to clear 700 cases a year and have less than 15 percent of their decisions sent back by a higher court; a Justice Department spokesman told the WSJ that the average immigration judge currently handles 678 cases a year. In addition, the WSJ says that judges will be required to complete 85 percent of “removal” cases within three days of the hearing.
The WSJ reports that Immigration judges—who aren’t considered a part of the judicial branch and work for the DOJ—are not big fans of this plan:
“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.”
Union officials also complained that they had not been given details needed to determine how performance will be calculated. And they said that some judges, for instance those working on the U.S.-Mexico border, have dockets with lots of quick cases and others have more cases that are complex and drawn-out.
One has to think that neither Sessions nor Trump care about the “integrity of the court,” considering they have hiring and firing power over immigration judges. Nor do they care about the dehumanization of the people they’re kicking out of the country, considering they are quite literally boiling their lives down to numbers.
The new standards haven’t been released to the public yet, but the Wall Street Journal says they’re set to take effect on October 1.