Immigration judges push to be independent from Department of Justice

Article subtitle: 
Recommendation No. 1: Double the number of judges
Article author: 
Trish Choate
Article publisher: 
7 News
Article date: 
29 August 2014
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

Congress might be on recess, but the immigration issue isn’t.

Two judges called on Congress earlier this week to tap into its constitutional power to make the swamped immigration court system an independent judicial agency.

“The immigration courts are the forgotten stepchild of the U.S. Department of Justice,” said Judge Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, which is a judges’ union.

In the spotlight because of the surge of unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration courts are backlogged, underfunded, understaffed and subject to political whims, Marks said during a press conference at the National Press Club ..

There are 375,000 cases pending in the immigration court system, she said. That’s about 1,500 on average per judge, but she has more than 2,400 pending cases. A first hearing takes 15 months, and a second hearing takes three and a half to four years to get on her docket ...