Musa Obregon & Associates Articles Justice Department Criticizes Immigration Courts

Justice Department Criticizes Immigration Courts

By Musa-Obregon & Associates  Nov. 19, 2012 4:49p

Inspector General Claims Pattern Of Incompetence Leads To Delays

After conducting a review of the nation's immigration courts, the Inspector General of the US Justice Department has issued a critical report chastising the system, arguing that mismanagement has created delays, keeping defendants stuck in prison for far longer than necessary. The backlog of cases has continued to grow, he claims, leaving some immigrants locked away in detention for years.

According to the report, which examined patterns in national immigration cases over a five-year window, as well as specific cases in hotspots such as Texas, New York, California, and Washington, the Inspector General found deep flaws in the system used to keep track of the suits by the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Systemic delays have created a bloated caseload for most immigration courts, the report found, and individual cases have been prolonged as well.

The inspector also claimed in the report that court systems have responded by attempting to hide the case-bloat, exaggerating accomplishments and failing to conduct proper performance reports. The paperwork and tracking systems had become so inaccurate, he stated, that the causes for delays had become almost impossible to uncover.

Citing several thousand cases just in 2009, the report alleges that more than half of the trials were granted multiple continuances, delaying the procedures by more than a year. During the course of the year of delay, the defendant was often left to sit in detention, without recourse to bail. Defendants were also less likely to receive an immigration attorney, and those who did were forced to deal with bureaucratic delays to seek access to government documents and paperwork.

In the report's conclusion, the inspector offered nine possible solutions to help speed up the trial process and reduce unnecessary delays. The suggestions include the implementation of better data collection systems, developing guidelines on the granting of continuances, and more efficient case tracking between different court systems. In a response, the director of the Office said that he disagreed with many of the report's assertions, but that they would take the suggestions into consideration.

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