Regarding the Nov. 4 news article “Justice Dept. vows to speed handling of deportation cases, curtail backlog”:
The Justice Department’s planned changes appear aimed at slashing due process. Additional immigration judges and staff are indeed sorely needed; staffing levels have lagged for more than 10 years.
But changes that simply rush hearings through the system are not the answer. The imposition of case-completion quotas on judges, the use of video conferencing rather than live hearings and curtailing adjournments needed to secure legal representation are moves that thwart justice. While the Justice Department blames “immigration lawyers” for case continuances, the Government Accountability Office’s June 2017 report found the sharpest rises in adjournments were because of operational reasons or Department of Homeland Security requests.
Instead of using the backlogs as a pretext to slash due process, the Justice Department should ensure both timely and fair immigration court hearings.
Eleanor Acer, New York
The writer is senior director of refugee protection
for Human Rights First.