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EOIR’s Goals, Objectives, and Strategies

Objective 1.2: Increase the Adjudicatory Capabilities to Meet the Immigration Court Demand

EOIR selects IJs and Appellate Immigration Judges (AIJs) through a rigorous, open, competitive, and merit-based hiring process free of partisan or any other improper external influences. EOIR has reduced the time it takes to hire IJs from an average of two years from application to onboarding to approximately six months, thus allowing EOIR to fulfill its adjudicatory and, most importantly, human capital needs to continue to address the backlog.

At the end of FY 2023, EOIR had 734 IJs, the largest corps in the agency’s history. Even with this many IJs, the elevated number of new cases received from DHS outpaced the adjudicators’ ability to complete them. When positions are vacated, EOIR immediately works to fill both IJ and AIJ positions as expeditiously as possible. EOIR expects to continue to hire IJs over the next several years, subject to appropriations by Congress, to meet the needs of adjudicating new and existing cases.

EOIR must also provide legal and administrative resources commensurate with the number of IJ and AIJ positions, including additional support staff at both immigration courts and the BIA. 

Currently, many IJs must share legal and administrative support staff, leading to inefficiencies in the adjudication and processing of cases. The objective of increasing adjudicative capabilities inherently requires hiring additional IJs, but increasing adjudicative efficiency necessitates that such hiring extends to support staff as well. Each IJ should be assigned a member of the support staff to assist with processing and administrative work. However, in some court locations, a single legal specialist must support upwards of three IJs. Because of EOIR’s small corps of support staff, incommensurate to the number of IJs, without sufficient increased staffing to match IJs, operational inefficiencies will only continue, as IJs may, out of necessity, spend time on processing duties. As IJ hiring is steadily increasing to match the caseload of over two million cases, so too must administrative staffing parallel that increasing caseload. In addition, as the IJ corps continues to grow, EOIR will require additional courtrooms to house the increased number of IJs and support staff.

 

Table 3. Objective 1.2 Strategies and Lead Components

Supports DOJ Strategic Objective(s)

Objective 1.2 Strategies

Lead EOIR Component(s)

1.2 & 5.1

1. Hire more IJs per Congressional Appropriations.

OA/OCIJ

2. Fill IJ and AIJ positions as soon as possible when the positions are vacant.

BIA/OA/OCIJ

3. Hire more direct and indirect support staff across EOIR. Direct staff include operational staff working directly with EOIR cases and indirect staff include supporting staff across EOIR not directly working on immigration court cases.

All Components

4.Continue to acquire additional space for new courtrooms.

OCIJ/OOD/OA

5. Provide necessary physical security for all EOIR buildings, staff, and external stakeholders in attendance.

OA

6. Systematically find, prioritize, and address fraud and abuse vulnerabilities, investigate allegations of violations of the EOIR Rules of Professional Conduct, and ensure all EOIR employees are familiar with federal laws regarding their conduct as federal employees (e.g., Hatch Act).

OGC