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Immigration Court Leadership Appropriately Criticized Over "Fact Sheet"

Posted by Matthew Green | May 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

A "fact sheet" was released earlier this month by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR).  The document is titled "myths versus facts about immigration proceedings."  However, it contains inaccurate and misleading information.  The EOIR is part of the Department of Justice and oversees 424 immigration judges in 63 immigration courts.  As reported in the Arizona Republic, the document addresses what EOIR claims are 18 "myths" that both former and current immigration judges state are "directly aimed at discrediting migrant families arriving at the southern border asking for asylum. It also aims to undermine longstanding attempts by immigration attorneys to gain independence from the executive branch, they say."

According to the American Immigration Council, "[m]any of the actual claims made in the document seemed aimed directly at opponents of the Trump administration's crackdowns on asylum seekers. For example, EOIR took on a 'myth' that 'few aliens fail to attend their immigration court proceedings.' Although President Trump has repeatedly claimed that few immigrants appear in court, in reality the vast majority of asylum seekers attend court hearings."

"Similarly, EOIR tried to bust a 'myth' that 'there is a wide discrepancy in asylum grant rates across all immigration courts.' Despite decades of evidence that there is a wide variation in asylum grant rates between different immigration courts, EOIR tried to claim otherwise by redefining what 'wide discrepancy' means. Under the agency's definition, a court which grants just 1 percent of asylum applications and a court which grants 21 percent of asylum applications do not have a 'wide discrepancy'—because both courts are within 10 percent of the average."

The Arizona Republic reported that, in a letter to James McHenry, director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, more than two dozen former immigration judges condemned the fact sheet as "purporting to present imagined 'myths' and wildly inaccurate and misleading information labeled as 'fact.'" "The issuance of such a document can only be viewed as political pandering, at the expense of public faith in the immigration courts you oversee," said the letter, signed by 26 members of the Round Table of Former Immigration Judges.

As reported by the American Immigration Council, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, which has called for the creation of an independent Article I immigration court, emphasized the problematic bias. “America's courts are meant to be impartial, dedicated to fairly and efficiently adjudicating the cases brought before them.”

"Courts generally avoid the appearance of bias wherever possible. It's hard to imagine a criminal court releasing anything so blatantly political as EOIR's 'Myths vs. Facts' document. And while not every claim in the document was false, the existence of the document itself is yet another clear sign that independence in the immigration courts is under attack."

About the Author

Matthew Green

Managing Attorney. Green | Evans-Schroeder (formerly Law Offices of Matthew H. Green) focuses on the aggressive defense of immigrants. A native of Arizona, Mr. Green understands the difficulties that immigrants and families of immigrants face when a loved one is charged with a crime. He knows how frightening it can be for some...

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Green Evans-Schroeder is focused on the aggressive defense of immigrants.

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