10:33, April 18 216 0 abajournal.com

2018-04-18 10:33:10
ABA president calls for restructuring of immigration courts to increase independence

In her prepared remarks, Bass says that immigration courts should be restructured as independent Article I courts, and immigrants should be given increased access to counsel, according to an ABA press release.

“The immigration courts issue life-altering decisions each day that may deprive individuals of their freedom; separate families, including from U.S. citizen family members; and, in the case of those seeking asylum, may be a matter of life and death,” Bass says in the prepared remarks. “Yet, this system lacks the basic structural and procedural safeguards that we take for granted in other areas of our justice system.”

Bass is addressing lawmakers two-and-a-half weeks after the Justice Department announced that immigration judges’ job performance will be evaluated according to how quickly they close cases. She is appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration

Immigration courts currently exist within the U.S. Justice Department, and their personnel and operations are subject to direct control of the attorney general. Immigrant judges are career attorneys in the Justice Department who can be removed and transferred without cause. That structure “is a fatal flaw to the reality—and perception—of independence,” Bass says in the remarks.