Judges call for immigration law reform

Immigration ReformCongress has been asked by the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) to create a court system independent of law enforcement agencies.  The NAIJ wants immigration courts to be separated from the Department of Justice, as it believes the current system is unfair on immigrants.

Judge Dana Leigh Marks, the president of the National Association of Immigration Judges and an immigration judge based in San Francisco, believes that the immigration court system should stand alone and be totally independent rather than being controlled by enforcement agencies.  The Justice Department responded to the call, which was made on Wednesday, by saying that it believes the system should continue to stay in the department.

Judges are incensed by the unfairness inherent in the current system, with immigrants particularly suffering as they cannot afford legal representation; therefore, the burden completely lies with the immigrants to prove why they deserve to be allowed to remain in the country.  Marks says that over 40% of the immigrants facing court last year were not represented by an attorney.  Together with Judge Denise Noonan Slavin, an immigration judge from Miami and the vice-president of the NAIJ, Marks has been having meetings with congressional officials to attempt to persuade them that the current system is badly in need of an overhaul.

Slavin points out that the change is supported by a number of other groups, including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Federal Bar Association and the American Bar Association.