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Immigration Reform: Immigration Courts (Part One)

Posted by Matthew Green | Jan 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

The proposed 2013 immigration reform bill has received a lot of attention. It was first introduced in the spring of last year and the Senate approved it. The House, however, did not pass the legislation. In many cases, each chamber will approve a different version of the bill.When this happens, the bill must be reconciled before it can become law.

Over the past few weeks, I have been devoting my blog entries to this proposed immigration reform. The bill, known as S. 744 is quite extensive, but I have highlighted some of the most important aspects of the legislation.

This post will take a closer look at the the first three sections describing increased funding for immigration courts (3501-3503). The programs and revisions implemented in these sections will be appropriated from the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Trust Fund.

Section 3501. This section deals with the fact that there is currently a shortage of immigration court personnel. S. 744 seeks to increase the total number of immigration judges. The hope is that cases will be adjudicated more efficiently. In fact, the bill calls for an increase of 75 additional immigration judges to be added nationwide each year for three successive years. Further, the Attorney General shall review any support staff shortages for immigration judges.

The section also calls for an annual increase in Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) personnel. The bill allows funding for 30 additional staff attorneys, in addition to corresponding support staff, to be hired at the BIA each year for three successive years, with the purpose of accelerating the adjudication of immigration appeals.

Section 3502. This section speaks to improving immigration court efficiency as well as reducing costs by increasing access to legal information. Here, the government is not required to provide counsel to aliens, but the Attorney General may appoint or provide counsel in certain circumstances. Cases involving unaccompanied alien children and aliens with a serious mental disability will be appointed counsel.

Section 3503. This section proposes a new office to be established within the Executive Office for Immigration Review. The Office of Legal Access Programs will develop and administer a system of legal orientation programs. These programs will strive to make immigration proceedings more efficient and cost effective through education. The education will be mainly directed at aliens who may need assistance accessing legal information.

Further, legal orientation programs shall be instituted in order to assist detained aliens in making smart decisions about their removal and eligibility for relief from removal. These courses will help to increase efficiency and reduce costs in immigration proceedings. The legislation provides for all detained aliens to have access to legal orientation programs within five days of arrival into custody. This will ensure aliens are aware of basic immigration procedures and help to deter them from filing frivolous claims.

Keep in mind that this section does not create any substantive or procedural right or benefit that is legally enforceable by any party against the U.S. or its agencies.

Please check back soon for my next post. The information provided today is an overview of only the first three sections related to immigration court resources. If you have a questions about immigration reform and how it may affect your status, contact my office today!

About the Author

Matthew Green

Managing Partner. 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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