Skip to comments.Immigrant Pleas Crushing Federal Appellate Courts
Posted on 05/02/2005 1:02:01 AM PDT by Cincinatus' Wife
Immigrants fighting to stay in the United States are flooding the federal appellate courts with cases, creating huge backlogs and fundamentally changing the character of the second-highest courts in the nation.
The deluge reflects growing dissatisfaction with the nation's immigration courts, and attorneys representing asylum-seekers and others say they have little choice but to appeal to the federal judiciary.
The trend is nationwide, federal records show, but bearing the brunt of this sudden surge is the San Francisco-based U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. In the year ending June 30, 2001, the immigration caseload was 965. It skyrocketed to 4,835 cases in the year ending in June 2004.
"Three years ago, immigration cases were 8% of our calendar," said 9th Circuit Judge Michael Daly Hawkins. "Today, as we speak, that percentage is 48%."
The 9th Circuit is the nation's largest federal appellate court and has long had a liberal reputation, but its immigration caseload is largely driven by the region it serves: California, eight other states and two territories. The court's 24 judges consider myriad cases that must now compete with the ever-growing immigration backlog.
"There are only so many judges available to hear and decide cases," said 9th Circuit clerk Cathy Catterson, adding that appellate cases used to take about six months to complete; now they can take about nine months.
"We feel overloaded by this problem," said Dorothy Nelson, another 9th Circuit judge. "It's just extraordinary. I've been on the court for 25 years, but I've never seen a rush
overwhelming us like this. Frankly, the immigration system needs to be reformed."
(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...
I was once a records-manager for the now-defunct Immigration & Naturalization (it is part of Homeland Security now; back then, it was part of the U.S. Department of Justice).
It was my observation that "asylum examiners" in Immigration & Naturalization were rather more interested in assembling around the water-cooler at the office, discussing the latest Chicago Cubs baseball game, than they were in doing their job.....jobs for which they were very well paid.
Many of them never even bothered reading files carefully and painstakingly assembled by petitioners; it was just more fun to play "Solitaire" on the office computer.....again, despite that they were very well paid, and they were very fortunate indeed to have jobs that demanded only reading, no other work.
The rest of us could be so lucky.
Whether one is pro-immigrant, anti-immigrant, or somewhere in between, one has to admit such is a tremendous waste of taxpayer money, bureaucratic inertia and non-work.
It was in the mid-1990s that immigration attorneys began frankly advising asylum applicants that the process for asylum was merely a wasteful and time-consuming facade that had to be endured; that one just had to have the patience to last it out, until an appeal could be filed in a court.
I do not know how it is now, but at least then, circa ten years ago, the attitude was, that while a bureaucrat never paid attention to documentation, judges were conscientious about it, and gave the applicant his first fair hearing.
A waste of taxpayers' money, having all these people on the payroll not bothering to apply the clearly-stated laws of the land.
Won't it be fun when half of the 12 million illegals file appellate cases over the implementaion of the "temporary work visa" program?
But the deal is, I bet we wouldn't have near that number of court cases, if bureaucrats had been doing their jobs to begin with, from the start.
This is where the problem lies--we don't need any more laws, any more rules.....we just need these well-paid desk-sitting broad-bottomed bureaucrats to do their jobs, applying those laws and standards already on the books.
Our "proof of legitimate marriage" file (5 affidavits, financial documents, insurance papers, about 2 inches thick total) was fortunately the only file lost during the process.
Having an effective attorney who knew how to barge in during INS lunch hours was our only salvation.
When I was at Immigration & Naturalization, the "asylum office" in Chicago had a record of accepting 8% of all applicants for asylum, rejecting 92% of them.
But then, of those who filed judicial appeals (which is apart from the process), at a great cost of money and time to themselves, upon judicial review, 91% of those applicants for asylum, who had been rejected by the bureaucrats, were accepted.
This is a travesty.
The laws of immigration are essentially straightforward and clear; probably even an 8th-graduate can understand them. It is easy, to go up-and-down the list, figuring if this thing applies, and this other thing does not--a computer can do it.
So why do we have all these $75,000+ per year asylum examiners, if a computer could do it--and a computer, if instructed, WOULD do it.
As an aside, I am familiar with cases such as yours; the Lincoln (Nebraska) office of Immigration & Naturalization, when I left there in 1997, had over 8,000,000--I repeat that, and this is a SMALL office; 8,000,000--documents that were not matched with files.
These were not unidentifiable pieces of paper; it was just that there was no interest in physically getting them with their proper files.
One way to reduce the "backlog" is to deny hearings and order the immediate deportation of anyone who cannot prove he/she entered the United States through an established border checkpoint.
Well, that is the law.
However, the bureaucrats are not enforcing the law.
Another way is to give them one year to go home and sign up for the proprer documents from the Mexican government. A third party is going to happen in 08 and they will win the election.
For some time I've thought the INS/ICE would be much better off if they transitioned to electronic filing, as the IRS has been doing rather successfully.
It's unbelieveable to walk into an adjudication office and see files stacked 2 and 3 feet high, and knowing the kind of blood and sweat that petitioners put into compiling those files. As my wife's file was magically pulled almost right off the top (it was her naturalization approval and the last step in a very tediour process), I pitied those poor people whose files were at the bottom.
As for the asylees, it is the direct fault of Congress and nothing or no one else that there's such unmitigated confusion over who does and does not have final jurisdiction over immigration cases.
Immigration to the USA is not a "legal right," and has only been considered so in the last 25 years.
And a response:
Well, that is the law.
Actually, it isn't the law. Asylum seekers, especially, can have their cases adjudicated wherever they entered (Elian??). And the law has many, many waiver provisions. Also, in the absence of a "national identity card," I doubt if you or I, or many of us, could prove we "entered through an established border checkpoint."
That's one of the big dilemmas -- we could get a list of all the illegals -- but only if we can get a list of all the legals, which many people violently oppose.
But while that appeal is pending,they have to stay behind bars until all the appeals are decided.
When five million illegals enter this country every year and have been doing so for at least a decade, just how far does the judiciary have to have it's head up it's arse to think the illegal problem wouldn't land in their lap sooner or later?
Every member of my immediate family has a US passport. As AE used to advertise, and taking their advice literally, "Don't leave home (the USA) without it."
It wouldn't take extreme resources nor time to have a case referred to deportation proceedings upon failure to present a legal entry certificate or a proof of US citizenship to a judge, a Clerk of Court, or a Deputy Clerk - and upon such presentation, a decision to dismiss or adjudicate then be made.
Should such a proof of legal entry become a requirement for an asylum hearing, I would guess about 95% would fail and could be referred for immediate deportation. Those cases, IMO, should never have a US court docket assignment.
Denial of hearings and deportation for those without proof of checkpoint entrance is already the law?
We are a stupid nation. Or we let stupid people run our nation.
No, the law is that one has to establish beyond a doubt where he entered the United States--which generally means a document (stamped passport, whatnot) showing that.
Before he has any further "rights," he has to establish that.
And it is NOT enforced.
It is not stupid people running the bureaucracy; it is lazy people, really lazy people.
May I repeat - absent that "small detail" < /sarcasm >, those cases, IMO, should never have a US court docket assignment.
Right; and I agree.
No legitimate entry, no "rights."
That is after all the law.
But who the Hades is bothering with enforcing the law?
This reminds me of when the Clinton-Hillary administration was pushing for more gun-laws, and an assistant Attorney General, when questioned how many had been prosecuted for illegal possession of firearms under the old law, alleged "none" had been, much to his embarrassment; the Department of Justice had not been enforcing the old law.
The laws are on the books.
We should use them, instead of passing more "feel good" laws. We should demand that our desk-sitting broad-bottomed bureaucrats do the work for which they are very well paid.
Excellent observations and comments, franksolich, thank you for sharing them with us.
You're one of the reasons FR is such a great place...FReepers come from all walks of life and have a wealth of information and experience relevant to today's issues.
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