What Are The Odds Of The U.S. Immigration Courts’ Survival?
By Paul Wickham Schmidt
Despite the campaign promises to make things great for the American working person, the Trump Administration so far has benefitted comedians, lawyers, reporters, and not many others. But there is another group out there reaping the benefits — oddsmakers. For example, Trump himself is 11-10 on finishing his term, and Press Secretary Sean “Spicey” Spicer is 4-7 to still be in office come New Year’s Day 2018.
So, what are the odds that the U.S. Immigration Courts will survive the next four years. Not very good, I’m afraid.
Already pushed to the brink of disaster, the Immigration Courts are likely to be totally overwhelmed by the the Trump Administration’s mindless “enforcement to the max” program which will potentially unleash a tidal waive of ill-advised new enforcement actions, detained hearings, bond hearings, credible fear reviews, and demands to move Immigration Judges to newly established detention centers along the Southern Border where due process is likely to take a back seat to expediency.
While Trump’s Executive Order promised at least another 15,000 DHS immigration enforcement officers, there was no such commitment to provide comparable staffing increases to the U.S. Immigration Courts. Indeed, we don’t even know at this point whether the Immigration Courts will be exempted from the hiring freeze.
At the same time, DHS Assistant Chief Counsel are likely to be stripped of their authority to offer prosecutorial discretion (“PD”), stipulate to grants of relief in well-documented cases, close cases for USCIS processing, and waive appeals.
Moreover, according to recent articles from the Wall Street Journal posted over on LexisNexis, individual respondents are likely to reciprocate by demanding their rights to full hearings, declining offers of “voluntary departure” without hearing, and appealing, rather than waiving appeal of, most orders of removal. Additionally, the Mexican government could start “slow walking” requests for documentation necessary to effect orders of removal.
Waiting in the wings, as I have mentioned in previous posts, are efforts to eliminate the so-called “Chevron doctrine” giving deference to certain BIA decisions, and constitutional challenges that could bring down the entire Federal Administrative Judiciary “house of cards.”
The sensible way of heading off disaster would be to establish an independent Article I Court outside the Executive Branch and then staff it to do its job. Sadly, however, sensibility so far has played little role in the Trump Administration. Solving the problem (or not) is likely to fall to the Article III Courts.
So, right now, I’m giving the U.S. Immigration Courts about 2-3 odds of making it through 2020. That’s a little better chance than “Spicey,” but worse than Trump himself.
To read the WSJ articles on the “clogging the courts” strategy, take this link over to LexisNexis: