Over the last five years, the budget for immigration courts grew by 74% — but the budget for immigration enforcement agencies grew by over 400%. The result is gridlock that makes those old criminal court dockets look like models of efficiency.
Former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, writing in the New York Daily News, outlines just how bad the U.S. immigration court crisis has become, blaming political pressures and adding that “… the result is a backlog that staggers the imagination. Today, when immigrants ask when they need to return to court, many are told in 2023.”
Morgenthau outlines the oft-cited, but still hard to believe, stats: “According to the most recent data from a think tank at Syracuse University, there are currently pending before our immigration courts over half a million removal cases. That averages about 2,000 cases per judge.”
The writer offers some solutions and begins with judges: “What is to be done? Regardless of how one feels about immigration reform generally, everyone can agree that we need to restore sanity to immigration court. First, immigration judges should be real judges. Right now, they are employees of the Justice Department, and not genuinely independent.”
He also makes a call for a sort of Civil Gideon, the idea that some civil cases (as opposed to criminal cases) should require representation (immigration cases are considered civil actions): “Congress must also ensure that immigrants get proper legal representation when their basic rights are at stake… a study published this month disclosed that in 70% of cases involving adults with children, there was no legal representation for the family.”
And, obviously, increase capacity. It’s a well-considered piece from somebody who knows of what they speak. Read it, and find the writer’s other missives on immigration and other issues, here:
Robert Morgenthau: America’s real immigration crisis
Welcome to the age of the “libel bully.” The American Bar Association used the phrase to describe Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in a report on his litigation, but knew better than to publish that report. The New York Times writes that “… the [ABA] report concluded that Mr. Trump was a “libel bully” who had filed many meritless suits attacking his opponents and had never won in court. But the bar association refused to publish the report, citing “the risk of the A.B.A. being sued by Mr. Trump.
The story notes that “.. internal communications, the bar association’s leadership, including its general counsel’s office and public relations staff, did not appear to dispute the report’s conclusions.
But James Dimos, the association’s deputy executive director, objected to the term ‘libel bully’ and other sharp language in the report, saying in an Oct. 19 email that the changes were needed to address ‘the legitimately held views of A.B.A. staff who are charged with managing the reputational and financial risk to the association.'”
Another quote from A.B.A. staff push-back: “While we do not believe that such a lawsuit has merit, it is certainly reasonable to attempt to reduce such a likelihood by removing inflammatory language that is unnecessary to further the article’s thesis,” Mr. Dimos wrote. “Honestly, it is the same advice members of the forum would provide to their own clients.”
Catch up on your irony here:
The state of Virginia’s DMV is the latest agency under fire for tying drivers’ licenses to paying court costs and fines. The Washington Post reports that “… after a class-action lawsuit claimed Virginia suspends the driver’s licenses of those too poor to pay fines and court costs in an ‘unconstitutional scheme,’ the state replied Monday, saying the suit raised no legitimate complaint.”
Also from the WaPo: “Though Plaintiffs’ case could appear sympathetic from a policy perspective, it fails when viewed from a legal one,” said the state’s memorandum in support of a motion to dismiss.
The class action, filed in July in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, documents that more than 940,000 people in Virginia currently have their licenses suspended for nonpayment. Such suspensions have become a civil rights issue across the country because they are seen to criminalize civil courts action.
Read the WaPo piece here: ‘DMV is not responsible’: Va. denies claim it unfairly suspends driver’s licenses