On Friday, September 28, 2018, the Executive Office for Immigration Review ("EOIR" - pronounced "Eeyore" like the Winnie the Pooh character) announced the hiring and assignment of 46 new immigration judges ("IJ"). Of those 46, four were assigned to the LaSalle Immigration Court in Jena, Louisiana, the middle-of-nowhere location of the GEO run (for profit) ICE detention center where so many immigrants arrested in Arkansas are separated from their families and detained.
The LaSalle court has been operating for well over a year, with EOIR often flying IJs to Jena to manage the docket a few days to a few weeks at a time to begin and then transferring management of the court to the Miami Immigration Court. The Miami court's IJs would appear via televideo alongside ICE trial attorneys and other court staff, including interpreters.
Miami's management ended mere weeks ago and now we have what we presume to be full-time IJs, living in and…
Normally, this is a blog about removal defense and, more broadly, immigration-related litigation. Even so, I wanted to discuss an issue that's been on my mind a lot the last couple of years using an issue I've been seeing in family-based immigration, not litigation.
Since Trump took office, there have been numerous immigration-related policies and proposals that have taken the news by fire. From the Muslim ban to family separation, there are a ridiculous number of cruel actions that justifiably stir up shock and anger. They have motivated thousands to take to the streets and demand change. They have inspired lawsuits. That's a good thing. We shouldn't be okay with cruelty in any form.
Yet, while attention has been focused on these horrific activities, the administration and its employees in the immigration agencies have also silently been implementing changes, policies, presumptions and attitudes that will and do have devastating effects. Most of these will neve…
Like the Memphis Immigration Court, the LaSalle Immigration Court is not an independent arbiter of the law. Instead, it is an administrative law court. It is the sub-agency of another agency tasked with enforcing the laws as that agency sees fit.
Practically speaking, what this means is the immigration judges are not judges at all. Rather, they are attorney employees of the U.S. Department of Justice and they have to do whatever the Attorney General, currently everyone's least-favorite Southern caricature, Jeff Sessions, tells them to do.
Looking specifically at the LaSalle court, this agency's sole purpose is to adjudicate the removal proceedings of detained immigrants. Individuals who have been detained from all over the mid-South, particularly Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tenn…