Washington, D.C.—Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) supports the “Real Courts, Rule of Law Act of 2022,” introduced today by Representative Zoe Lofgren to establish an independent Article I immigration court system. The bill would address the problematic organization of the current immigration court system under the Department of Justice (DOJ), which gives the attorney general wide authority to alter precedent and policy and to limit judicial discretion.
Representative Lofgren’s bill would create a trial division, appellate division, and administrative division within the new immigration courts, replacing the current immigration court system administered by the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) within the Department of Justice.
“The current system allows politics to interfere in the judicial process to the potential detriment of immigrants, including unaccompanied children, undergoing legal proceedings in immigration court,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “The attorney general’s authority to assign cases to him or herself, then reach decisions in those cases that have a precedential and binding effect on immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals, allows political considerations, rather than principles of fundamental fairness and due process to shape judicial decision-making.”
Representative Lofgren’s bill is a significant first step toward creating a discrete children’s immigration court to solely adjudicate children’s claims. Such a court is vital in addressing the needs of unaccompanied children, while focusing on their best interests using child-friendly court practices. KIND recommends that a specially trained corps of judges, who have experience working with children, oversee this court. The court should employ a less adversarial approach than traditional immigration courts, and Department of Homeland Security attorneys representing the government in these cases should be trained in child-sensitive practices and children’s unique claims for immigration relief.
“Vulnerable unaccompanied children deserve a fair consideration of their cases,” Young added. “An independent court would improve due process, reduce political influence, and increase judicial independence. KIND welcomes Representative Lofgren’s efforts to ensure a fundamentally fair immigration court system with a firewall to protect it from political interference that undermines the safety and well-being of children and others seeking U.S. protection.”
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