Jeffrey writes in his blog:
“In August 2016 I organized and moderated the mandatory international religious freedom training panel at the immigration judges’ legal training conference in Washington, D.C. One of the panelists from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (“USCIRF”) informed me of a just-published report she had co-authored.
The report, titled Barriers to Protection: The Treatment of Asylum Seekers in Expedited Removal, is the follow-up to a 2005 study by USCIRF of the treatment of arriving asylum seekers in their interactions with the various components of DHS and the Department of Justice involved in the expedited removal process. What jumped out at me from the report was the first key recommendation to EOIR: “Retrain immigration judges that the interview record created by CBP is not a verbatim transcript of the interview and does not document the individual’s entire asylum claim in detail, and should be weighed accordingly.”
The new report referenced the Commission’s 2005 findings, which it described as “alarming.” The earlier study found that “although they resemble verbatim transcripts, the I-867 sworn statements” taken from arrivees by agents of DHS’s Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”) component “were neither verbatim nor reliable, often indicating that information was conveyed when in fact it was not and sometimes including answers to questions that were never asked. Yet immigration judges often used these unreliable documents against asylum seekers when adjudicating their cases.”
The 2016 report found similar problems with the airport statements taken a decade later. The study found the use of identical answers by CBP agents in filling out the form I-867 “transcript,” including clearly erroneous answers (i.e. a male applicant purportedly being asked, and answering, whether he was pregnant, and a four year old child purportedly stating that he came to the U.S. to work). For the record, USCIRF is a bipartisan organ of the federal government. So this is a government-issued report making these findings.”
Read the rest of Jeffrey’s analysis at the above link.
Too bad that the Trump Administration has eliminated Annual Immigration Judge Training! With a bunch of new Immigration Judges on board and the push to rubber stamp removals as quickly as possible to comply with the President’s Executive Orders on Enforcement, I guess there is no time for training in how to make correct decisions.
In fact, when judges have enough experience to know what’s really happening and are able to selectively regulate the speed of cases to make sound decisions and achieve due process, they find out that there are lots of problems in how the DHS prepares and presents cases, not all of which immediately meet the eye.
To state the obvious, how would an unrepresented respondent in detention get together the necessary Circuit Court case law to learn and effectively challenge unreliable airport statements introduced by DHS Counsel? How would he or she subpoena Immigration Officers or get documentation necessary to show that many airport statements are prepared by rote with exactly the same information in the same language. Mistakes as to age, gender, and “best language” of applicants are common, suggesting that the reports too often have little to do with the actual facts of a particular case.
Short answer, they wouldn’t! As a result, the chances of the Imigration Judge using unreliable information to reach an incorrect decision against the respondent greatly increase.
And their use in the “kangaroo court” procedure known as “Expedited Removal” where enforcement officers make the decisions is prima facile problematic. Someday, all of the Article III Judges who have turned a blind eye to this unconstitutional procedure will have their judicial records forever tarnished in the light of history.
No wonder this Administration likes to detain individuals in out of the way locations (where conditions are coercive and lawyers are not readily available) to make their removal stats look good. And, while most Immigration Judges are conscientious, without a good lawyer to help pick apart the weaknesses and inaccuracies that are often in airport statement, invoking concepts drawn from Federal case law, the possibility of an incorrect or unjust decision is much greater.
We need an independent Article I U.S. Immigraton Court whose sole objective is achieving due processs and making correct legal decisions. And, that would include providing regular in person judicial training from a wide range of sources, including academic experts and those with litigation experience outside the government, on how to fairly evaluate evidence. It would also include a focus on insuring that every individual who goes to a “Merits Hearing” in Immigraton Court has a fair chance to be represented by counsel and reasonable access to his or her lawyer and the evidence and resources necessary to prepare a successful case.