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Huffington Post
January 2, 2015

2015's Top 5 Civil Justice Issues
By Sara Warner

Immigration Courts -- You almost hate to call them "courts," since the judges are actually employees of the Justice Department, not independent jurists. Even the judges' union is calling for reform, a rare event since their employment contracts bar criticizing the Department. In the meantime, the "border kids" crisis, where Central American children showed up at our border seeking refuge, exposed an overwhelmed system with hundreds of thousands of pending cases and fairly routine decisions taking years, leaving families in limbo and creating a chance to "game" the immigration process. And it keeps getting worse. The National Law Journal reported in November that "... by the end of October, there were 421,972 cases pending in the nation's 58 immigration courts--an increase of more than 22 percent from around the same time period in 2013, according to data released this week by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. The number of new removal orders filed against undocumented immigrants grew by 12 percent, from 198,723 in fiscal year 2013 to 222,956 this year." These cases are a core argument for "Civil Gideon" reform, because we should not ask children to face government lawyers in front of a government judge. The record shows that most of those with lawyers get to stay and most of those without lawyers have to leave.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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