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Strategic Goal 5: Administer Just Court and Correctional Systems

Objective 5.1: Administer an Equitable and Efficient Immigration Court System

The Justice Department is responsible for equitably and efficiently administering our nation’s immigration courts.  In January 2021, there were nearly 1.3 million outstanding cases before the immigration courts – the largest ever pending caseload.

Strategy 1: Reduce the Backlog of Immigration Cases
The Department will increase the capacity of the immigration adjudication system.  We will continue to seek the necessary resources from Congress to develop a more efficient and forward-looking system for hiring immigration judges to ensure that vacancies, including any new positions provided by Congress, are filled in a timely manner.  We will also work to provide both new and experienced immigration judges with process-oriented training to help them manage their courtrooms and dockets more efficiently.  Finally, we will identify strategies for eliminating non-priority cases from the immigration courts to free up additional capacity.

Strategy 2: Advance a Fair, Equitable, and Efficient Immigration Adjudication System
Throughout the adjudication process, the Department will focus on both procedural and substantive fairness, including ensuring that adjudicators are impartial, that laws are applied humanely and equitably, that all parties are treated with respect and dignity, and that cases are resolved in accordance with the Administration’s priorities and all applicable laws and regulations.  We will accomplish this, in part, by providing continued and increased training to immigration adjudicators and litigators—addressing topics including changes in immigration law; cultural differences that may be relevant in an adjudicatory or litigation context; and expectations about their individual responsibilities.  We will also increase access to quality interpreters who provide full and complete translations during proceedings.  We will enhance efforts to provide legal orientation and legal services to individuals, including those navigating immigration adjudication proceedings.  Additionally, the Department will report on training efforts associated with immigration adjudication and litigation and will request from the public and relevant stakeholders suggested training topics for consideration.

Strategy 3: Improve Public Confidence in Immigration Courts
The Department will work to earn the public’s trust in the immigration court system.  The Department will publicly release materials that clarify guidelines and expectations for hiring adjudicators, including the importance of diversity of professional experience.  The Department will also provide greater transparency into the process for raising, adjudicating, and resolving concerns regarding the conduct and professionalism of immigration adjudicators and immigration practitioners.  We will also publicize immigration adjudication and litigation data and priorities. 

To ensure that noncitizens’ claims are fully considered, the Department will provide clear, public information in a variety of languages and formats concerning the immigration system and process; opportunities to find free or low-cost legal assistance; immigration law, regulatory, and policy information; and expectations for appropriate conduct by all parties to a proceeding—respondent, attorneys, and adjudicator.  Additionally, consistent with appropriations, we will increase the reach of existing legal access programs and provide improved and new services, including the opportunity for noncitizens to seek personal guidance concerning general information not rising to the level of representation.

Key Performance Indicators:

  • Median case completion time
  • Average number of vacancy-days for immigration adjudicator positions
  • Percent of immigration judges who have received all relevant continuing legal education annually
  • Visits to the Immigration Court Online Resource (ICOR)

Contributing DOJ Components: CIV, USAO, USMS, ATJ, EOIR