Monday, July 6, 2020
Immigration Court Watch: A Top Immigration Court Official Called For Impartiality In A Memo He Sent As He Resigned
The neutrality and independence of the U.S. immigration court system has long been questioned. Hamed Aleaziz for BuzzFeed looks at the latest riff in the independence discussion.
Last week, an immigration court official stepped down after sending an email to court employees emphasizing the importance of the appearance of impartiality and the benefits of providing protections for people fleeing to the United States. The message came on the same day that the Trump administration selected Tracy Short (bio), previously the lead ICE prosecutor, for the chief immigration judge role. The selection of Short left some claiming the move would undercut the appearance of neutrality at the court. Christopher Santoro, who had been the acting chief immigration judge, appeared to signal that in his message to court employees announcing his resignation. His resignation and Short’s hiring comes as the Trump administration has undertaken a monumental overhaul of the way immigration judges work: placing quotas on the number of cases they should complete every year, restricting when asylum can be granted, and pouring thousands of previously closed cases back into court dockets. In the meantime, the case backlog has increased and wait times have continued to skyrocket to hundreds of days.