Judges are being temporarily reassigned to immigration courts in 12 major cities to speed up deportations of illegal immigrants who have committed crimes. The Justice Department (DOJ) is seeking volunteers to be deployed across the country.
Twelve cities with high illegal immigrants populations and who have committed crimes will get more immigration judges in order to speed up deportations regardless of the verdicts against the defendants, Reuters reported Friday.
The exact number of judges the DOJ is seeking to reassign is currently unknown, but two Trump administration officials have confirmed that volunteers are being sought.
The cities that will receive additional immigration judges are Baltimore, Chicago, El Paso and Harlingen, Texas; Imperial, Los Angeles and San Francisco, California, Miami, Florida; New York City; Omaha, Nebraska; and Phoenix, Arizona. The dozen cities were chosen because they represent over half of the country’s pending cases involving illegal immigrants facing criminal charges.
The cities have been confirmed as targets for more judges by a spokeswoman for the Justice Department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review who did not confirm any other details regarding the potential surge in deportations. However, cities along the southwest border of the US will be receiving more judges for the same reason on Monday.
The process is a part of an executive order signed by President Donald Trump shortly after his inauguration that made deportations of illegal immigrants facing charges a priority, even if they are not found guilty.
While the idea behind the judicial reassignments is to speed up immigration cases in the courts, former immigration judge and chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals, Paul Schmidt, is concerned this will result in delays in other courts around the country.
“That’s what you call aimless docket reshuffling,” he told Reuters.
Schmidt also doubts the increase in judges will translate to more deportations.
“It seems they have an assumption that everyone who has committed a crime should be removable, but that’s not necessarily true. Even people who have committed serious crimes can sometimes get asylum,” he said.