Washington, D.C., partner Mike Remington was quoted in California’s Daily Journal on the current status of immigration reform and the downstream effects it may have on immigration judges.
In June the Senate passed an omnibus immigration reform bill that would double the size of the immigration court system and its administrative staff; however, the measure has slowed somewhat in the House of Representatives as House leadership has stated that it will process piecemeal bills addressing individual immigration issues instead.
In the meantime, immigration judges are both "overburdened” and “overwhelmed,” according to San Francisco Immigration Judge Dana Leigh Marks, as they struggle to contend with a backlog of roughly 1,277 pending cases each, compared with 440 cases on average for each U.S. district judge.
"My docket is jammed. I'm setting merits hearings for March 2017," said Judge Marks, who is also President of the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), a judges’ collective bargaining unit.
The NAIJ’s goal is to convert the status of immigration judges from that of attorneys hired by the Department of Justice to that of federal judges in an independent immigration court similar to the U.S. Tax Court, the bankruptcy courts and the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. Mike Remington is the NAIJ’s legislative counsel in Washington, D.C.
Mike explained to the Daily Journal that the idea remains in limbo.
"The Senate did not incorporate it in the immigration bill it passed. It put in more judges instead."
He noted. "But it was extremely positive that lawmakers said they would study the idea. There is room for optimism that, with input from the [union], we could create a real immigration court system."