The Department of Justice is planning to temporarily move a number of immigration judges to 12 U.S. cities to speed up deportations of immigrants charged with crimes. Two of the cities involved—El Paso and Harlingen—are in Texas.
Angelique Montano, partner at Quan Law Group, observes, “Houston has a huge immigrant population, and we do have a large immigration court docket. So it’s a little surprising that Houston was not on the list of the twelve cities that these judges are being sent to.”
No word yet on how many judges will be transferred, or when the move will take place. “I think it’s still speculation,” Montano says. “It sounds like they want to start rolling this out soon, but to actually get all the pieces in place before it gets officially activated may take some time.”
Montano also finds it odd that people listed for deportation include those charged with a crime, but not convicted, since charges are often dropped, or a not-guilty verdict may be returned. Besides, she points out, “Even persons with convictions may still be eligible for some forms of relief from deportation.”
Montano says a large number of these cases can be carried out remotely, via teleconference. “An immigration judge can be located at one spot,” she notes, “and the immigrant may be actually at a different location.” So some of Houston’s cases may need up being handled by the judges who relocate to El Paso and Harlingen.immigration