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Nearly half immigration judges eligible to retire

December 23, 2013
By LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ , The Associated Press

MIAMI - The nation's already backlogged immigration courts might soon be thrown into more havoc as roughly half of their 220 judges will be eligible for retirement next year. The Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the nation's 59 immigration courts, says the court already has 32 vacancies, contributing to the current backlog of nearly 350,000 cases. Judges are overwhelmed, and immigrants with legitimate asylum claims can spend years in legal limbo. Meanwhile, immigrants without legitimate legal claims remain in the country, while Americans foot the bill for them to be locked up longer. The Executive Office says its average retirement rate is only 5 percent per year - which would mean 11 judges retiring in 2014. But Judge Dana Leigh Marks, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, fears increasingly difficult conditions are likely to push many to retire at the earliest opportunity. "We are the forgotten stepchild. When Congress wants to fund immigration enforcement, they forget about the court," Marks said. She said it takes months to vet judicial appointees and even longer for judges to get up to speed. Congress has aggressively boosted funding for immigration enforcement and detention, with the Obama administration deporting some 360,000 people last year. Yet, the courts have seen few additional resources.

 
 
 

 

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