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Attorney General Jeff Sessions makes remarks to incoming immigration judges for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) September 10, 2018 in Falls Church, Virginia. Alex Wong/Getty Images
Attorney General Jeff Sessions makes remarks to incoming immigration judges for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) September 10, 2018, in Falls Church, Virginia. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Autocracy of Sessions will weaken the independence of immigration judges

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced new limits for immigration judges when terminating immigration cases, putting pressure on expedited deportations.

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The Department of Justice under the Trump administration, represented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has unequivocally determined that sympathy for immigrants in the United States is over.

During the past week, Sessions not only welcomed 44 new judges into the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) but announced that, under his watch, these new judges will have "new limits on the ability to terminate deportation cases," according to Reuters, a decision that "will facilitate the removal of immigrants who are in the country illegally."

The attorney general has then decided to use his power to "rewrite opinions issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals" determining that "judges can only terminate or dismiss cases in specific and circumscribed circumstances."

According to the new decision, "the judges have no inherent authority to terminate removal proceedings, even though a particular case may pose sympathetic circumstances," the report continues.

In this way, immigration judges can only suspend deportation in cases in which the government cannot prove its argument, if it requests a dismissal, or if it decides to "allow an immigrant time for a final hearing on a pending petition for naturalization when the matter involves ‘exceptionally appealing or humanitarian factors.’”

That means the decision of the judges will be determined by the government, which reduces their independence and their ability to legislate outside the framework of a political ideology.

According to Immigration Impact, during his speech, the attorney general preferred to "emphasize that judges must follow his orders" and encouraged them to "ignore sympathy" when applying the law to noncitizens.

"Throughout his speech, Sessions framed the role of immigration judges as enforcers of the law, not as neutral adjudicators in an adversarial system," the report continues. In addition, the attorney general "declared that the work of the new judges would send a clear message to the world that the lawless practices of the past are over."

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