Gonzales Changing Immigration Courts
The Associated Press
Wednesday, August 9, 2006; 10:24 PM
— Immigration court judges will undergo periodic evaluations and
additional immigration appeals judges will be hired, Attorney General
Alberto Gonzales announced Wednesday.
Gonzales opened a review of
the immigration courts, which operate as part of the Justice
Department, in January after chastising some of them for “intemperate
or even abusive” conduct toward asylum seekers.
“This review has left me reassured of the talent and professionalism
that exists in the immigration courts and at the Board of Immigration
Appeals,” Gonzales said in a statement. But he found room for
The more than 200 immigration judges handle hundreds
of thousands of cases each year. Some of the judges have criticized the
quality of their colleagues’ work and the disparaging way some judges
have treated foreigners seeking to remain in this country.
predecessor, John Ashcroft, overhauled immigration reviews in 2002, but
his changes have been highly criticized. Ashcroft’s overhaul led to
more asylum and other cases being decided by a single judge rather than
a three-judge panel of the Bureau of Immigration Appeals. The reforms
were followed by a marked increase in the number of cases later taken
to regular federal appeals courts.
Gonzales declined to return to
the three-judge format, but made other tweaks to Ashcroft’s reforms,
such as allowing for the return of a case to the immigration appeals
panel if it warrants reconsideration.