Immigration Removal Adjudication
Project Stages:1. Gather ideas - Completed
2. Select ideas - Completed
3. Council approval - Completed
4. Picking a researcher - Completed
5. Committee consideration - Completed
6. Back to the council - Completed
7. Consideration by the full conference - Completed
8. Implementation - Current
Background Information: One of the biggest challenges in mass adjudication programs is the queue of pending deportation proceedings. A study issued in August 2010 by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University reports that the number of cases pending before immigration courts within the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) recently reached an all-time high of nearly 248,000 and that the average time these cases have been pending is 459 days. A February 2010 study by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration reports that the number of cases is “overwhelming” the resources that have been dedicated to resolving them.
Project Details: The Conference undertook an extensive study ofimprovements to the procedures for immigration removal adjudication. Conference consultants, Professor Lenni B. Benson of New York Law School and Russell R. Wheeler of the Brookings Institution and the Governance Institute conducted detailed research. The study was limited to such procedures and did not address substantive immigration reform. The study addressed a variety of possible ways to improve immigration removal adjudication and identified the most fruitful areas to target. Potential areas of improvement included:
- Representation. The ABA study suggests that improving representation of noncitizens in immigration proceedings could benefit not only noncitizens, but also government decision- makers and the overall system by making cases clearer and more efficient, promoting fairer results, and, in some cases, persuading noncitizens to abandon their cases because they have no basis for relief. The Conference’s study cataloged existing barriers to representation, which may be legal, practical, technological, or financial; identified ways to overcome these barriers, including creative methods that might not require much additional funding; and estimated the costs and benefits for both private parties and the government if the barriers could be overcome.
- Management Practices at EOIR. The ABA study suggests numerous issues with case management at the Executive Office for Immigration Review. These issues involve both the trial-level immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals. The study thoroughly considered case management at both levels.
- Video Hearings. Video conferencing offers potential efficiency benefits, but critics have suggested that it may hamper communication and credibility determinations. The study considered the best uses of video conferencing.
- Other Areas for Improvement. The study reviewed a number of other areas and formulated recommendations for improvements to the system of immigration removal adjudication.
Additional Information: The Immigration Removal Adjudication project was assigned to the Committee on Adjudication, which held six meetings between January and May 2012 to discuss the project, various drafts of the report and various drafts of the recommendation. At the sixth meeting, which took place on Monday, May 7, 2012, the Committee on Adjudication approved a draft recommendation. The Council approved the draft recommendation with certain revisions, and the full Assembly of the Conference voted to approve the recommendation at its Plenary Session on June 15, 2012. All relevant documents connected with this project are posted below.