Trump administration threatens judicial independence | CLINIC

Trump administration threatens judicial independence

Oct 13, 2017

SILVER SPRING, Maryland – The Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. is alarmed by a Justice Department proposal to impose quota-driven evaluations for immigration judges, threatening to undermine the impartiality and effectiveness of the immigration court system.

“The Justice Department’s quota-driven proposal is an unprecedented overreach by the executive branch into the traditional authority of judges,” said Jeanne Atkinson, executive director at CLINIC.

As reported by the Washington Post Oct. 12, the Justice Department “intends to implement numeric performance standards to evaluate Judge performance.”

“The proposal raises serious concerns about the fundamental separation of powers inherent in the American system of justice. If this plan is implemented, it would constitute an attack by the administration on the integrity of our immigration courts,” Atkinson said. “It shows a lack of basic respect for the rule of law. To restrict judges from fully evaluating critical evidence in cases—effectively denying people a fair trial—flies in the face of the foundational tenets of the American legal system."
 
“The opportunity to present your case before an immigration judge is a fight for your life and your family’s safety,” said Michelle Mendez, manager of CLINIC’s Defending Vulnerable Populations program who also serves as faculty for the National Institute for Trial Advocacy. “While the government prioritizes a focus on clearing the statistical backlog of cases for immigration judges, creating a quota-driven court system is the wrong approach, and one that the Framers unequivocally rejected as they created a country that would be an enduring beacon of hope for the persecuted.”

CLINIC strongly opposes the Justice Department’s misguided plans to address historic backlogs in the immigration court system by imposing quotas that would shift judges’ focus away from fully evaluating cases involving human lives to unrealistic timelines and arbitrary numbers.