A Call for Independent Immigration Courts

Those who know me personally probably have heard me rant about immigration judges not being free from political pressure, and the need for the creation of an independent immigration court system.

In fact, many Americans are not aware that our nation’s immigration courts, unlike other courts, are part of the U.S. Department of Justice — the very same law-enforcement agency that is charged with prosecuting immigration cases in federal courts.

Just as it would be unacceptable for a district attorney to supervise trial judges, it should be unacceptable for the attorney general to control the jurisprudence, docket management, and even the terms of employment of immigration judges. This has long been recognized as a fundamental structural flaw in our immigration court system, but Congress has so far failed to rectify the situation and create a new system that is truly independent.

Our immigration court system has been flawed for a long time, but under the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, it is clear that this is a problem we must address now. This flaw in our judicial system has made it vulnerable to the extreme policies of the attorney general. The attorney general has wielded his incredible power over our courts in unprecedented ways. He has plucked cases from the courts to decide himself, he has emphasized quantity over quality at every turn, and as of Oct. 1, he has even required judges to finish cases under quotas or face discipline.

As an attorney, I see the harm these policies are causing American families. America needs a stand-alone, independent court that will administer our nation’s immigration laws free from political manipulation. The solution is for Congress to establish an independent Article 1 immigration court, a structure that has been used to create our nation’s tax court and veterans claims court.

Everyone deserves a fair day in court. Immigration cases are often life-or-death matters. That’s why I am calling on our members of Congress to support the creation of an independent immigration court system, and you should also.