Jeff Sessions’s Immigration Courts

Lawyers with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement have sought to  reopen almost 8,000 immigration court cases that were either suspended or closed for admin reasons according to records from the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review.

This is a direct result of Sessions continued push to dilute the ability of immigration judges to suspend immigration cases due to administrative reasons and his push to gain total control over immigration courts.

Last Thursday, Jeff Sessions issued an order to speed up immigration cases, stating that immigration judges should only issue exceptions in immigration removal proceedings for what he refers to as “good cause.”

The “good-cause standard,” Sessions noted, “limits the discretion of immigration judges and prohibits them from granting continuances for any reason or no reason at all.”

In other words, Sessions just gave the privileged power that  immigration judges have to decide on how to handle individual immigration cases to himself and the DOJ.

Sessions also stated his decision “reflects the public interest in expeditious enforcement of the immigration laws” and is an “important check on immigration judges.”

Well, I think we can all agree that what is best for the “public interest” is Sessions staying away from forcibly implementing his anti-immigrant agenda on our country’s immigration courts.

Unfortunately, unlike other federal courts, U.S. immigration courts fall under the DOJ’s jurisdiction, meaning the attorney general is the leading power.

Yea, you read correctly, Jeff Sessions is the leading power in the DOJ, and hence, immigration courts. Talk about a terrifying conflict of interest.

To no surprise, Sessions has taken it upon himself to carry out his, and the rest of the Trump administration’s racist, xenophobic agenda. He is doing everything in his power, literally, to make it as hard as possible for immigrants to be able to stay in the country after they have been detained.

Sessions has been more active in interfering with immigration courts than any previous attorney general.

An ICE spokeswoman said last week that the DOJ is looking to reset cases of people that have been arrested or convicted of a crime, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Sound familiar?

“Now that we have seen the numbers, I think it is extremely scary,” said Sarah Pierce, a senior policy analyst with Migration Policy Institute in Washington.

“Many people have been here for years living in relative peace, and suddenly that is nolonger true; suddenly they are going to be back before an immigration judge and facing deportation.”

There is no question that Session’s had this extension of authority on our immigrants courts planned. In the short time that he has been our country’s attorney general, Sessions has used his authority to make it nearly impossible for immigrants to seek refuge or asylum in our country.

This has been evident in the handling of the thousands of cases that arose this summer as a result of Trump’s zero tolerance policy.

The reality is that having this man who has a life-long history of racist, anti-immigrant sentiment as the leading power and influence over our immigration system is a dangerous conflict of interest that keeps immigration cases from being heard from an unbiased perspective.

If Sessions keeps extending this tyrannical control over our immigration courts, much of our immigrant community will suffer, and many who seek help from life-threatening situations will be turned away without a second thought.