AILA Public Statements, Press Releases, Advocacy & Media

AILA Executive Director Welcomes New Direction at EOIR

9/24/21 AILA Doc. No. 21092405.

Washington, DC – Today, Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) welcomed the appointment of David Neal to be Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) with the following statement:

“The director of EOIR plays an extremely important role overseeing the nation’s immigration courts where decisions impact millions of individuals and families. Attorneys General from the previous administration used the fact that EOIR is within the Department of Justice (DOJ) to undermine our immigration and asylum laws and attempted to turn our immigration courts into little more than a deportation mill. Judicial independence, integrity, and fairness in the courts were also severely weakened by policies stripping judges of critical tools and imposing case quotas that prioritized speed over fairness or accuracy.

“The fact that Attorney General Garland has chosen someone who understands the office, and the critical role it plays in restoring the commitment to due process and the integrity of our immigration judicial system, is an important step in the right direction. A former judge himself, Mr. Neal faces an enormous challenge in overseeing our nation’s immigration courts. With an untenable and inexcusable 1.4 million cases now in the backlog, the courts need someone like Mr. Neal who understands how to improve efficiency and operations while still ensuring thoughtful and fair review of all cases. He will need to use his experience working with Democrats and Republicans to achieve lasting change, and ensure the hiring of people other than career prosecutors to sit on the bench. He will also need to pursue his commitment to due process by promoting access to counsel and ending the favoritism accorded to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) prosecutors that results in unequal treatment of counsel for immigrants. Mr. Neal began his legal career at AILA and we stand ready to work with him to achieve success in this new role, and provide our immigration court system with the leadership and vision it so desperately needs.”