Congress may be potentially altering the manner in which immigration courts have been operating for decades. In February of 2022, congressional representative Zoe Lofgren proposed “The Real Courts, Rule of Law Act of 2022.” This bill seeks to isolate immigration courts by creating an independent immigration court system. It is set to be coined, “The United States Immigration Courts,” and is to have a trial, appellate, and administrative divisions.
The purpose of this bill would be to remove immigration courts from the United States Department of Justice, as well as the Executive Branch. Such a change would call for a restructuring of where immigration court currently registers in the United States Constitution. If passed, “The Real Courts, Rule of Law Act of 2022” would be found under Article 1 of the constitution, officially making them independent—similarly to tax and bankruptcy courts.
The primary reason for Lofgren’s proposal would be to reinvent the nature of immigration court. Immigration at its core, (along with the legalities which surround it) has always been a highly politized and divisive subject in the United States. A bill such as this seeks to remove the overarching politization of immigration that we know all too well. The premise of this undertaking would be to provide immigration courts with a haven to cultivate ideologies which can ensure that clients receive fair and unbiased outcomes. Being that courts are currently under the Executive branch, the fairness of immigration court outcomes are continually in question.
There are several factors to consider when discussing the future of isolating immigration courts in such an abrupt and definitive manner, some of which include:
- The sincerity of immigration officials, lawyers, judges, and officers who hold differing views to what this bill will require of them.
- The unlearning that those in power in immigration courts will have to execute in order to comply with the nature of this bill.
- The manner in which the outside world will view immigration law in terms of overall integrity.
- What such a revolutionary move would mean for image of the Executive branch of government.
- How this will impact the future of immigration in the United States.
- How those who hold anti-immigration and xenophobic views will respond to such a bill.
Irrespective of the controversy, removing immigration courts from their current branch and implementing such a radical change will truly expose how engrained politics have been into the nature of immigration law. This will also expose if we as a country can truly work toward depoliticizing immigration for the sake of aliens whose families, livelihoods, health, children, and the like truly depend on a fair, sober trial.
Overall, if executed properly, the clause should make immigration courts both more consistent and fairer. For the entirety of its existence, American politics have always led a very binary—left or right trajectory. Bridging the dichotomy and divisive nature of these politics in immigration can potentially serve a world of good to those who are predisposed to discriminatory practices. If the purpose of immigration law is to defend oppressed and subaltern voices, in many ways, the bill adds an extra layer of protection around those who are initially impacted by the decisions made in immigration court.
An outlook that is void of overwhelming political views allows for a safe and secure platform for those seeking justice. In addition to this isolation, the bill is set to reduce the 1.6 million case backlog. The ability to expedite the documents and paperwork that so many immigrants are depending on for their decision may positively impact countless lives.
One large benefaction of the immigration courts removal from the Executive Branch would be the accompanying removal of the influence of presidential administrations. Immigration reform has consistently been used as a vehicle, particularly in election years, to sway the popular vote. Too often have we witnessed the people’s lives and immigration status in this country be utilized as propaganda for a desired political outcome.
Such influence can be most easily noted in the Trump administration’s policies surrounding immigration—where he instituted quotas of completing 700 cases per year. The erasure of the presidential administration influence simultaneously erases the aforementioned binaries which pose such a true threat to the overall outcome of those in immigration law.
In some regard, such a bill may benefit both the immigration client and defender, as the gradual disintegration of binary political views will allow immigration courts and its parties to form their own ideologies—hopefully that of which is in the best interest of immigrants who are in desperate need of help as well as the overall health and growth of the United States.