The Department of Justice is reportedly drafting plans to temporarily reassign an undetermined number of immigration judges to 12 cities across the country in order to speed up deportations of undocumented immigrants charged with criminal offenses, according to officials.
The move followed a request by the Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for national security concerns within the United States and oversees Border Patrol as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The cities, selected for their high number of pending criminal cases involving illegal immigrants, include New York; Los Angeles; Miami; New Orleans; San Francisco; Baltimore; Bloomington, Minnesota; El Paso, Texas; Harlingen, Texas; Imperial, California; Omaha, Nebraska and Phoenix, Arizona.
It is unclear how long these judges will be reassigned, as there are more than 9,000 pending removal hearings for undocumented immigrants charged with or convicted of criminal offenses slated in these areas. The reshuffling of these judges, though, will effectively mean that cases that would have been heard in their own jurisdictions will have to be delayed, potentially exacerbating backlogs across the country.
The Trump administration has touted its efforts to remove people in the country illegally as making good on campaign promises to rid neighborhoods of violent criminals and drug dealers. However, as a result of the president’s own efforts, this latest move may not primarily be hurting those who’ve committed serious crimes in the United States.
An executive order signed by President Trump in January superseded an Obama-era rule that prioritized the deportation of undocumented immigrants who had been convicted. The order stipulates that undocumented immigrants are priorities for deportation whether they have been charged for or convicted of a crime or not, potentially punishing innocent individuals.
As ATTN: has reported on in the past, the claim that illegal immigrants commit more crimes doesn't necessarily hold up. According to a Pew Research Center survey, native-born citizens were generally involved in more crimes than first and second generation immigrants.
The president’s actions toward undocumented immigrants have been largely overshadowed by his repeated attempts to order travel bans on foreign nationals from several Muslim-majority nations. On Wednesday, the second of these orders was blocked by a federal judge in Hawaii. It was the first state to file a legal challenge.