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DOJ criticizes immigration courts for inefficiency

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General [official website] released a report [text, PDF] Thursday criticizing US immigration courts as inefficient. Inspector General Michael Horowitz urged the immigration courts to use all resources available [Reuters report] to maximize efficiency. The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) conducted an evaluation of the DOJ's Executive Office for Immigration Review to evaluate the management and legal process of immigration cases. The OIG recommended keeping track of the amount of time that judges spend on each case and allocating staff to those cases accordingly. The review produced incomplete performance reports by the immigration courts, which makes assessing areas for improvement a difficult task. The criticisms detailed in the report include:

Excessive delay in immigration case processing can undermine the fair administration of justice if witnesses are no longer available to testify, U.S. citizen relatives die, or documentary evidence is lost. Moreover, the failure to promptly resolve cases results in aliens with unsupportable claims for relief from removal remaining in the United States longer, while those with legitimate claims for relief remaining in legal limbo for unwarranted lengths of time.
The OIG made nine recommendations to improve case processing and case descriptions.

Immigration law [JURIST backgrounder] has became a hot button issue over the past few years. Last month the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit denied a request [JURIST report] from Alabama state officials to reconsider its August ruling partially striking down [JURIST report] the state's immigration law. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in September denied a request for a new injunction against a controversial provision of Arizona's immigration law which requires law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of persons they stop or arrest if there is a reasonable suspicion that the person is in the US illegally. In August the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit again heard arguments [JURIST report] on two anti-illegal immigrant laws enacted in 2006 by the city of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, which deny permits to businesses that employ illegal immigrants and fine landlords who extend housing to them.

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