Professor Stacy Caplow: Fix the Crisis in Immigration Courts


In a guest column for the Star-Ledger Herald (New Jersey) on Mar. 28, “Deporting 'bad hombres' a Trump sham if region's immigration courts are crippled,” Professor Stacy Caplow outlines the current crisis in the nation’s Immigration Courts, resulting in case backlogs and delayed justice.

The U.S. Justice Department has asked immigration judges to volunteer for temporary reassignment to the 12 most overloaded courts, mainly in Texas and California, but this reshuffling, Caplow argues, only exacerbates the problem.

“Shuffling judges around the country is a shell game for Immigration Courts and a raw deal for immigrants that allows the administration to claim it's taking steps to make good on its get-tough promises to deport ‘bad hombres,’ but actually sells a false bill of goods to the public,” Caplow writes.

She cites the example of her asylum-seeking client, a Newark resident, who fled to the U.S. following her detention and torture in her home country. She first appeared in New York Immigration Court in December 2013, when her case was adjourned to April 2016. Then the case was transferred to the court in Newark, where she had moved, but it took another year for her case to be set on the court's calendar, which was subsequently delayed because of a snowstorm. She recently received a notice with her new court date in June 2019.

“The problem needs more than a flimsy redistribution of already stretched-to-the-limit resources to stop the deterioration of due process into a mockery,” Caplow writes. “Get new judges appointed and working, and return the reassigned judges to their caseloads.”

Professor Caplow is a leader in the field of clinical legal education. She is Brooklyn Law School’s first dean overseeing all aspects of clinical and experiential education. She also serves as co-director of the new Center for Criminal Justice. At the Law School, Caplow teaches criminal law and immigration law and co-directs the Safe Harbor Project. She is the co-author of Multidefendant Criminal Cases: Federal Law and Procedure, and writes about criminal law, immigration law, and clinical education topics.

Read the column here.