Monday, December 12, 2011


In November 2011, DHS took another concrete step to match its recent call for a more systematic policy of prosecutorial discretion. It would begin reviewing all removal cases before immigration courts (about 300, 000 cases) and start a nationwide training program for ICE agents (including DHS attorneys). This is a positive step; in fact, the immigrant defense community was becoming impatient, as the NYT reported (see here), because the policy was being implemented without much consistency.

In December 2011, the "triage" review began for DHS cases pending in Denver and Baltimore immigration courts (learn more here). However, this "triage" process seems to be carrying an unexpected cost: it is adding significant delays to those removal cases which immigrants are most likely (and cannot wait) to win. (Read an article on the topic here.) Instead of favorable closure on the merits, those cases are at present being administratively closed, or rescheduled (from, say, December 2011 to as far in the future as May 2014!).

There may be ways to avoid this trade-off. For example: why not, say, assign all simple cases to a small number of DHS attorneys in order to allow them to proceed as scheduled (especially cases that are already at scheduled for an individual-hearing)?

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