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Georgetown University

Current Development: Judicial Branch: Controversy Reemerges Over Hiring, Review of Immigration Judges
By Gabriel Pacyniak

n21 Id. at 114. Such concerns were confirmed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which, in a study that was coincidentally released the same day as the OIG report, disclosed that the number of Immigration Judges had declined since Gonzales first issued his directive (from 218 to 210). In addition, although the Justice Department had sought, but did not receive, additional funding for Judges in fiscal year 2008, it did not seek funding for judges in fiscal year 2009. TRANSACTIONAL RECORDS ACCESS CLEARINGHOUSE, EFFORT TO HIRE MORE JUDGES FALLS SHORT (2008), http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/189/. n36 TRANSACTIONAL RECORDS ACCESS CLEARINGHOUSE, BUSH ADMINISTRATION PLAN TO IMPROVE IMMIGRATION COURTS LAGS (2008), http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/194/. TRAC is a neutral data provider and analysis organization affiliated with Syracuse University. The author is a legal intern with TRAC's Immigration Courts Project. Meanwhile, in early September, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse [*809] (TRAC) released a separate study analyzing the status of the improvement measures proposed by Gonzales in 2006. n36 While finding the Justice Department had met a number of benchmarks, the study concluded the Department and EOIR had largely failed to accomplish the primary objectives of the proposals. n37 Specifically, TRAC found that EOIR failed to conduct any annual performance evaluations, implement a judicial code of conduct, or finalize rules to reduce the number of single-member affirmances without opinion at the BIA. n38 The study did find the Justice Department and EOIR had completed some of the improvement measures, such as appointing Assistant Chief Immigration Judges to supervise each court; implementing a new immigration court practice manual; increasing the size of the BIA from eleven to fifteen members; n39 and implementing a new policy requiring all EOIR staff members to refer apparent instances of fraud and abuse. n40 In many cases, however, the study found changes were only "partially implemented" or implemented "in an opaque and unmonitored way that limits their potential to meaningfully improve the Immigration Courts." For example, while the agency had assigned Assistant Chief Immigration Judges to handle complaints against judges, it did not publish information about how the process worked or provide data on howmany complaints had been processed." n41 The Department disputed TRAC's overall findings in newspaper reports, with a spokesperson stating that EOIR had "made significant progress in implementing the 22 measures, as nearly all of them are completed or near completion." n42 In some cases, TRAC found that slow progress on reforms represented a dispute between the Justice Department and the union representing Immigration Judges whether they should be classified as attorney-employees or as independent judges.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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