In Immigration Courts, It Is Judges vs. Justice Department

As the Trump administration pursues a hard-line policy on immigration, it is facing resistance from an unexpected quarter — judges who rule on whether immigrants will be deported or be allowed to stay in the country.

Immigration judges are objecting to a series of policy and personnel changes that their bosses at the Justice Department say are aimed at speeding up the immigration courts, which as of the end of June had a backlog of 732,730 cases, 94,871 of them in New York, according to the department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.

Some judges, including those in the New York courts, interpret the new policies, which include quotas on how many cases they must hear, as an attempt to control their decision-making.

“There’s been so much focus on efficiency and speeding up the process,” said New York Judge Amiena Khan, speaking as the executive vice president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, the judges’ union. To the union, she said, the changes seem like an attempt to turn judges from neutral arbiters into law enforcement agents enacting Trump administration policies.

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