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Our immigration courts are drowning, expedited removal can bring relief. By Nolan Rappaport

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© Getty

Trump has acknowledged that the immigration court’s enormous backlog cripples his ability to remove illegal immigrants in a timely manner, but his plan to deal with the backlog isn’t going to work.

This chart from the Executive Office for Immigration Review's (EOIR) FY2016 Statistics Yearbook shows that the immigration judges (IJs) have not been making any progress on reducing the backlog.




At a recent Center for Immigration Studies panel discussion on the backlog, Judge Larry Burman said, “I cannot give you a merits hearing on my docket unless I take another case off. My docket is full through 2020, and I was instructed by my assistant chief immigration judge not to set any cases past 2020.”

By the end of September 2016, the backlog was up to 516,031 cases. A year later, it had grown to 629,051.



Even if the IJs did not get any new cases, it would take them more than two years to clear the backlog. Double the number of IJs and it would take a year, that is, if the backlog doesn’t increase while the new IJs are being recruited, hired, and trained.

Trump’s backlog reduction plan.

Read more at http://thehill.com/opinion/immigrati...n-bring-relief

Published originally on The Hill.

About the author. Nolan Rappaport was detailed to the House Judiciary Committee as an executive branch immigration law expert for three years; he subsequently served as an immigration counsel for the Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims for four years. Prior to working on the Judiciary Committee, he wrote decisions for the Board of Immigration Appeals for 20 years.





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  1. ImmigrationLawBlogs's Avatar
    This is not the first article that Nolan has written on the subject of the backlogged immigration courts. This is not to deny that it is a serious problem - both for immigrants who may have to wait for many years to assert whatever defenses they may have against deportation, while in many cases languishing in detention the whole time; and for the Trump administration which is anxious to move as many Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and other non-white immigrants as possible out of the country as fast as possible.

    But is expanding the number of immigrants who are shipped out of the country through expedited removal without even minimal due process of law really a good solution?

    As soon as due process of law starts to disappear for immigrants, how much longer will it still be available for American citizens?

    At a time when our democracy is under threat on many fronts from this administration - with freedom of the press, independence of the courts, and minority voting rights all under attack, to name just a few, (not to mention the administration's latest call for a second special counsel to punish Hillary Clinton for losing an election -which she actually won by almost 3 million votes - while Trump pals around with a dictator in the Philippines who has reportedly murdered thousands of his own citizens), expelling potentially hundreds of thousands, or even millions of immigrants without any right to a court hearing based on whatever theory creates a very dangerous precedent for the rights and fundamental freedoms of Americans as well.

    Ethnic cleansing has led to dictatorship in many other countries. It can happen here.


    While dealing with the problem of our "drowning" immigration courts, to quote from the title of Nolan's article, we have to be careful to protect our democracy from drowning also.

    Roger Algase
    Attorney at Law
    Updated 11-14-2017 at 12:15 PM by ImmigrationLawBlogs
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