Politics House Dems push Garland for immigration court reforms

00:35  11 june  2021
00:35  11 june  2021 Source:   thehill.com

Opinion: Merrick Garland has no plans to become the anti-Barr

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Vice President Harris hosted members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus this week -- as House Democrats call on the administration to overhaul federal immigration policies. Harris’ Monday meeting with 15 Democratic lawmakers came as record illegal immigration surges continue to overwhelm authorities at the southern border. Speaking to reporters just before the start of the gathering, Harris touched briefly on the migrant crisis, noting that the group would be discussing “how we can address the root causes of migration.”

House Democrats believe the Supreme Court will rule in favor of the Obama administration and uphold his executive actions on immigration , even though the high court currently only has eight justices. President Obama faces the real possibility of a deadlock decision from a Supreme Court that’s been struggling to reach consensuses following the unexpected February death of Scalia. In the event of a 4-4 tie, Democrats promised they would continue to push for comprehensive immigration reform and support future litigation.

A coalition of 60 House Democrats is calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to use the authority of the Department of Justice to make sweeping changes to an immigration court system dramatically altered by the Trump administration.

Merrick Garland wearing a suit and tie: Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington © Getty Images Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the Department of Justice in Washington

Under the prior administration, the backlog of cases sitting in court more than doubled to 1.3 million - a figure that could leave migrants waiting more than four years for a hearing in their case.

But lawmakers, in an effort spearheaded by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), are urging Garland to take a number of actions, ranging from blanket removal of cases from the docket to unwinding a number of decisions they say politicized the immigration court system run by DOJ.

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Immigration reform has now been placed in the back burner and many believe that a reform bill will not be passed by the end of this year. The immigration bill that was passed by the Senate includes provisions for high-skilled foreign workers and would expand the H-1B visa program. Immigration activists and business leaders are still urging the politicians to pass immigration reform . Apart from urging the Republicans, activists are also urging President Obama. They want the President to act on his own and legalize the undocumented immigrants by signing an executive order.

" Immigration reform is the right thing to do for our economy, our security and our future," Obama said. "A vast majority of the American people agree. The only thing standing in the way is the unwillingness of Republicans in Congress to catch up with the rest of the country." The reluctance among House Republicans comes despite business groups, unions, religious leaders and other activists banding together to push for immigration legislation. National Republicans also have argued that failure to act this year could cost the GOP politically in presidential elections.

The letter comes as momentum on immigration reform has largely stalled in Congress, increasing the importance of agency action if President Biden wants to have an impact on the immigration system.

At the heart of the letter is a call for the new administration to review Board of Immigration Appeals decisions that limited asylum along with regulations that limited the discretion of immigration court judges.

"The Trump Administration took aggressive steps to rewrite asylum law and restrict discretionary decision-making and judicial independence. These policy changes-implemented by your predecessors through the certification of BIA decisions and the promulgation of regulations-must be immediately reviewed and reversed," they wrote.

Justice Department to step up enforcement of voting rights protections, Attorney General Garland says

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Garland went on to cover the wide ranging responsibilities of the department, from protecting voting rights, fighting discrimination in housing and combating cybercrimes and drug trafficking. He also touched on his willingness to leave a lifetime appointment on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Then-President Obama nominated Garland to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in 2016. But Republicans, who controlled the Senate at the time, refused to give him a hearing or a vote citing the presidential election.

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Democrats are determined to cast an election-year spotlight on Republican opposition to raising the minimum wage and overhauling immigration laws. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said Democrats will push the wage issue when Congress returns from its break Feb. 24. Forcing a vote on a comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws could occur in a few months.

"We are also concerned with the prior Administration's overt efforts to politicize the immigration courts by prioritizing individuals with political connections and enforcement-heavy backgrounds-rather than knowledge of immigration law or judicial experience."

The Biden administration has called for hiring 100 new immigration judges as part of its budget. It's a figure experts say will do little to help with the backlog but that may help balance out former President Trump's influence on the court.

The Trump administration filled roughly two-thirds of the 520 lifetime seats on the immigration court bench, often picking those with long careers in Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

The Biden administration, however, recently proceeded with hiring 17 immigration court lawyers initially selected under Trump.

The lawmakers also threw their weight behind a push from the National Association of Immigration Judges seeking to reverse a Trump-era imposition of quotas on judges, asking them to decide 700 cases each year, a move both camps argue "infringed upon their independence and ability to render consistent and fully informed decisions."

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Keep families together. The bill reforms the family-based immigration system by clearing backlogs, recapturing unused visas, eliminating lengthy wait times, and increasing per-country visa caps. The legislation builds on record budget allocations for immigration enforcement by authorizing additional funding for the Secretary of DHS to develop and implement a plan to deploy technology to expedite screening and enhance the ability to identify narcotics and other contraband at every land, air, and sea port of entry.

A group of Irish-American Democrats is lending its voice to the push for an immigration overhaul that offers full citizenship for those living in the country illegally.Although the current debate over immigration reform has focused on Hispanic Americans and the Southwest border, the lawmakers maintain that smaller groups of illegal immigrants – like That provision, championed by President Obama and immigrant rights advocates, has been among the major sticking points as bipartisan negotiators in the House and Senate have grappled with a reform plan that satisfies all sides.

The letter also asks Garland to consider removing large swaths of cases from the immigration court backlog, nixing those where applicants may have already applied for status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or whose cases have already lingered for years and have not been deemed a priority.

"Considerable systemic pressure could be alleviated by removing up to 700,000 cases from the court docket that should not be priorities for court adjudication," they wrote.

The request comes after an ICE memo giving its attorneys more discretion to drop cases.

While Garland has acknowledged the backlog is an issue, he's yet to outline what measure DOJ is considering to address it.

"We need to get the backlog down; we need to streamline our processes," he told lawmakers during a hearing Wednesday.

The letter also calls on DOJ to consider expanding programs that provide free legal help to those in a court system where there is no guarantee to counsel.

"We encourage you to expand legal representation and orientation programs for these vulnerable populations and others, and to request appropriate funding from Congress to accomplish this objective," the lawmakers wrote.

Justice Department Scrutinizing Voting Laws to Determine if They Discriminate Against Voters of Color .
"There are many things that are open to debate in America, but the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them," said Attorney General Merrick Garland.At a news conference Friday, Garland pledged to double the size of the agency's Civil Rights Division within the next 30 days. He stated that the agency will use all available provisions in the Voting Rights Act and other legislation to "ensure that we protect every qualified American seeking to participate in our democracy.

usr: 3
This is interesting!