President Donald Trump is reassigning immigration judges from around the country to 12 cities rife with criminal illegal immigrates to speed up their deportation.
Administration officials tell Reuters it’s unknown exactly how many judges will be reassigned and when they will be sent, but it’s a done deal.
The cities targeted are New York, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Miami, New Orleans, San Francisco, Baltimore, Bloomington, Minnesota, El Paso, Harlington, Texas, Imperial, California, and Omaha, Nebraska.
Those cities were chosen because they have the highest population of illegal immigrant with criminal charges, officials said.
A spokeswoman for the Justice Department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review, which administers immigration courts, told Reuters that the cities have been identified as likely recipients of reassigned immigration judges, but did not elaborate on the planning.
The plan to speed up deportations is in line with President Trump’s campaign promise to deport more criminal illegal aliens.
Officially, the Department of Homeland Security asked for the reshuffle. This is a relatively unusual move, given the immigration courts are administered by the Department of Justice.
In an executive order signed by Trump in January, illegal aliens are a priority for deportation if they have a serious criminal case pending – whether they have been found guilty or not. This is different from the Obama Administration’s policy of only deporting illegal immigrants who have actually been convicted of serious crimes.
The cities slated to receive more judges have more than half of the 18,013 pending immigration cases that involve undocumented immigrants facing or convicted of criminal charges, according to data provided by the Justice Department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review.
More than 200 of those cases involve immigrants currently incarcerated, meaning that the others have either not been convicted or have served their sentence. The Justice Department did not provide a breakdown of how many of the remainder have been convicted and how many are awaiting trial.
As part of the Trump administration crackdown on illegal immigrants, the Justice Department is also sending immigration judges to detention centers along the southwest border. Those temporary redeployments will begin Monday.
Under Barack Obama, judges would often hear proceedings via video conference to avoid the disruption of immigration judges traveling around the country. But Trump’s move indicates that he is taking the issue mores seriously by requiring the judges to be physically present.