Featured Issue: Immigration Courts

The U.S. immigration court system suffers from profound structural problems that have severely eroded its capacity to deliver just decisions in a timely manner, as well as public confidence in its outcomes. The Trump administration used these foundational flaws to manipulate the courts to their breaking points – pressuring judges to render decisions at a break-neck pace at the cost of accuracy, eliminating docketing tools, growing the backlog, and restricting access to relief. It is imperative that Congress pass legislation that creates an independent Article I immigration court system.

AILA submitted a statement for the record, entitled “Why America Needs an Independent Immigration Court System,” for the January 20, 2022, House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship’s hearing “For the Rule of Law, An Independent Immigration Court.”

See below for resources on why the courts need to be rehabilitated, progress that's been made, and how you can help.

Resources on Rehabilitating the Immigration Courts

Agency Announcements

A.G. Garland Certifications

  • B-Z-R-, 28 I&N Dec. 424 (A.G. 2021)
  • NEGUSIE, 28 I&N Dec. 399 (A.G. 2021)
  • A-C-A-A-, 28 I&N Dec. 351 (A.G. 2021)
  • CRUZ-VALDEZ, 28 I&N Dec. 326 (A.G. 2021)
  • A-B-, 28 I&N Dec. 307 (A.G. 2021)
  • L-E-A-, 28 I&N Dec. 304 (A.G. 2021)

Practice Resources

Other Resources

Take Action

Reforming Immigration Courts

Ultimately, to operate in a balanced and fair manner, Congress must pass legislation creating an Article I immigration court system. Agency policy alone cannot outweigh the conflict of interest built into the system: the immigration courts are overseen by the Attorney General (AG), who also supervises the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers who prosecute immigration cases in federal courts. In other words, the chief prosecutor is also the chief judge.

For years we have seen the detrimental effects of a politicized immigration court system. Administrations have repeatedly made policy decisions not because they’re efficient or legally sound, but because they’re politically expedient. This flawed system is what enabled the Trump administration to transform the immigration courts into an enforcement agency rather than a fair and neutral arbiter, turning immigration judges into “prosecutors in ... judge’s robe[s].”

Take Action

  • Use AILA’s template to ask your member of Congress to create an independent immigration court.

Resources on Reforming the Immigration Courts

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 21041931.