Broken Immigration Courts

June 8, 2011 @

Imagine a court system in which defendants routinely fail to show up and suffer no consequences. Where orders issued by the courts are routinely ignored. Where deceptive statistics are reported to Congress. You’d call that a crisis, wouldn’t you?

But it’s just another day in the life of America’s immigration courts.

These administrative tribunals are part of the Justice Department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review and include more than 250 judges considering hundreds of thousands of cases a year involving aliens seeking asylum or other forms of relief from deportation. And yet this system, like much of the rest of our immigration apparatus, resembles the old Soviet joke, in which employees pretend to work and bosses pretend to pay them. They are, in the words of former immigration judge Mark Metcalf, “play courts” — and America’s sovereignty and security are too serious matters to be treated as a game.

For the Center for Immigration Studies (my immigration-policy institute), Metcalf has written “Built to Fail: Deception and Disorder in America’s Immigration Courts,” a report that documents this dysfunction. And documenting it was no easy task, since the Justice Department systematically massages the statistics about the immigration courts in such a way as to downplay how bad things are. At the panel discussion about the report’s release, National Review Online’s own Andy McCarthy was blunt about the false impression put forth by DoJ:

Remember, the Justice Department is responsible for enforcing the laws against fraud, the laws against false statements to government agencies, the business-disclosure regulations. The Justice Department — I can say this confidently as a prosecutor who worked on cases like this for a long time — the Justice Department would never in a million years tolerate the kind of pervasive dissimulation — lying, frankly — that goes in the statistics that the Justice Department is itself putting out to report to Congress what’s going on in the immigration system.

And when you see the real numbers, you can see why they’re lying. Between 1996 and 2009, fully 40 percent of all aliens allowed to remain free until their immigration hearings failed to show up for court. From 2002 to 2006, in the wake of 9/11, when you would have thought there would have been greater attention to such things, 50 percent of all aliens who were free pending trial disappeared. The worst years were 2005 and 2006, when 59 percent of such aliens didn’t appear at their hearings.

Read More at National Review By Mark Krikorian, National Review

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