By Massoud Hayoun for Pacific Standard

The American Bar Association is renewing calls for lawmakers to overhaul the nation’s overwrought immigration court system by making the courts independent from the Department of Justice, and therefore from the Trump administration. The association is joined by a broad array of legal workers in accusing the administration of enacting policies that pressure immigration judges to ramp up deportations, with no apparent concern for due process or the rule of law.

The United States immigration court system is not part of the judicial branch, but rather is governed by the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review. The office was created to oversee the courts in 1983; previously they were under the control of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, also under the Department of Justice. Last week, the ABA identified an “existential crisis” within this system, finding it subject to “political interference,” to “policies and practices that threaten due process,” and to “longstanding and widespread under-resourcing.” It calls for a Congressional vote to establish the courts as an independent entity per Article I of the Constitution — also known as an Article I Court.

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Photo: Mani Albrecht, U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

Is It Time to Bring the Nation’s Immigration Courts Under the Judicial Branch?