Jeff Sessions set a record for the immigration enforcement side of DOJ operations, one that should not have been necesssary.
Since President Donald Trump has taken over responsibility, deportations have been on the rise, which requires, of course, more judges to oversee the deportations. There is also a demand for more judges to deal with cases in the immigration backlog, of which there are said to be hundreds of thousand.
Earlier Monday, Jeff Sessions, the attorney general of the United States, personally welcomed more than 40 new judges to their new careers. The ceremony, which took place in Virginia, allowed him to welcome the largest class of immigration judges in in U.S. history, according to the Department of Justice. Many people recognize that the Obama administration seemed to purposely keep the immigration judge quota unfilled, so that more people could stay in the U.S. illegally, but that that is changing.
During the ceremony, Sessions told the class of 44 immigration justices that, including them, the United States currently had the most active immigration judges in its history.
The judges underwent the solemn ceremony as the Donald Trump administration is still having issues with keeping up with the case load brought on by actually enforcing immigration law as it is written, something that Barack Obama administration didn’t care to do.
President Donald J. Trump’s administration is also still working to reunite around 400 children who were separated from their families due to the length of their detention.
Thankfully, these judges will (hopefully) allow the government to begin chipping away at the immigration backlog cases, which are numerous.
According to Syracuse University and their Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, a data gathering research organization, there are more than 700,000 cases in that backlog.
Though Jeff Sessions, head of the Department of Justice, was happy to be welcoming the largest class of immigration judges thus far, he showed signs that he was not done expanding the number of men and women hearing cases.
He said that “we will not stop” with just this additional 44, but rather that they will add more by the end of the 2018 calendar year.
Sessions even said that his goal was to see a 50 percent increase in the number of immigration judges since the beginning of the Trump presidency, before the calendar rolls over to 2019.
Former Senator Sessions did not pull any punches or sugarcoat the realities of the job to the men and women being welcomed, however.
He warned that they would be bearing an intense workload, and he was unapologetic in expecting quality legal decisions from them.
The attorney general said that he would not apologize to them for expecting that they would perform at a “high level,” both efficiently and effectively, in their service with the federal government.
He also warned that many of the cases they would encounter would present them with complex legal issues, but that nonetheless, those cases would need to be moved to completion, all while the judges managed their docket and their support staff.
Immigration judges hear cases concerning immigration, both legal and illegal, into the United States.
They also hear cases concerning claims of asylum, which tend to be much more complex than other cases.
Claims for asylum generally include allegations that an immigrant is facing some sort of danger in their home nation, which can range from being targeted by government forces to simply an abusive husband.
Due to the difficulty in making decisions that could, literally, mean death for some immigrants, the cases can be very complex and time-consuming, even for experienced people.
However, the Justice Department still hopes to bring on yet more immigration judges.
The DOJ’s budget for fiscal year 2018, which ends in October, still includes funding for 33 additional members of the immigration court system who have not yet been hired.
Currently, there are 351 such judges, though the department has the funding for a total of 384.
Next year, though, Sessions plans to ask for funding for an additional 150 people, a number which, if achieved, could drastically reduce the burden.
Obviously, the more individuals on the bench, helping to chip away at that 700,000-case backlog, the faster those cases will all be cleared.
The fact that this issue has appeared, however, shows just how understaffed the immigration system was during the Obama years.
It also suggests that the last administration, at the very least, didn’t enforce the laws as written, but rather as they wished them to be written, which might lighten the case load for any judge but also undermines the sanctity of law as it is passed by congress.
Laws are passed by the legislature, enforced by the executive, and considered by the judiciary. When the executive doesn’t enforce the law as it is written, it causes issues when laws are properly enforced.