Securing 265 new judges and improving court efficiency
WASHINGTON— Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28) included language in the U.S. House of Representatives’ fiscal year 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill to hire at least 100 new immigration judge teams, which include judges, support staff, technology and work space, in addition to many other border security measures. It also includes language that increases immigration court efficiency.
In the fiscal year 2018 Appropriations Bill, Congressman Cuellar secured 100 judge teams, totaling 484 immigration judge teams. If current language is passed for FY19, the total would come to 584 immigration judges. The goal is to field 700 judges nationwide.
Securing New Immigration Judges
For years, Congressman Cuellar has made it a priority to get Immigration Judges into border communities. In previous Omnibus Appropriations bills, he has secured:
- In FY16, language hiring at least 55 new immigration judge teams, which includes judges, support staff, technology and work space, along with many other security measures to help process immigration cases and increase efficiency at the border;
- In FY17, language hiring at least 10 judges;
- In FY18, language hiring at least 100 judges.
With the additional 100 immigration judges for FY19, the total number would come to 265 new judges in the last four years.
Increasing Court-Efficiency Initiatives
In addition to the increase in immigration judges, the bill increases court-efficiency initiatives in two ways. Specifically, it calls for modifying the procedure for immigration judges to issue oral, instead of written, decisions and encourages judges to use preliminary hearings to screen cases to address frivolous filings and reduce court times required to process them.
“Increasing the number of judges to process immigration cases is a common sense solution that should appeal to everyone, no matter how you feel about immigration policy,” explained Congressman Cuellar. “With a backlog of about 692,000 pending active cases, our immigration courts are in dire need of additional judges to expeditiously adjudicate these cases.
“Currently, due in part to the lack of available judges, immigrants at the border are either detained for long periods of time or released into the United States with a promise to return at a later court date. Neither of those is a good option for immigrants or the enforcement of our laws. Having more judges at the border will help treat immigrants more fairly.”
Congressman Cuellar added, “I want to give special thanks to my fellow Appropriators and Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson, and Ranking Member José Serrano, for working with me to include this necessary language.”