Washington, D.C. - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) delivered the following opening statement, as prepared, during a full committee markup of H.R. 6577, the “Real Courts, Rule of Law Act of 2022”:
“H.R. 6577, the “Real Courts, Rule of Law Act of 2022” would take the much-needed step of moving the immigration court system out from under the authority of the Department of Justice and establishing a new and independent Article I court.
“Currently, the U.S. immigration court system is administered by the Executive Office for Immigration Review—also known as “EOIR”-- an agency housed under the Department of Justice. Unfortunately, since its founding in 1983, EOIR has struggled as a judicial body because it lacks independence from the Executive Branch.
“Immigration judges are appointed by the Attorney General and considered attorneys under the control of the Justice Department. As a result, our immigration court system is highly susceptible to political interference from whoever is in charge of DOJ. This interference, which has occurred under administrations of both parties, casts a shadow over the ability of our immigration judges to serve as neutral arbiters when it comes to making life-changing immigration decisions affecting the people who come before them.
“Currently, what cases immigration judges hear, how often they grant continuances, and the type of relief they can offer are all controlled by the Department of Justice. If that was not enough, an Attorney General can also take any decision with which they do not agree and certify it to themselves to change or shape through a process known as self-certification.
“This process had been used sparingly until the Trump Administration, which used it a record 17 times in only a 4-year span to further its extreme anti-immigrant agenda.
“Our country deserves an immigration court system that works—not one where immigration judges are used as pawns in our immigration policy arguments.
“That is why I was pleased to join Subcommittee Chair Lofgren in introducing the Real Courts, Rules of Law Act of 2022, which moves our nation’s immigration courts into a new, independent Article I structure. By creating an independent immigration court system, we would finally restore much needed faith and confidence in the decisions made by our immigration courts.
“And immigration judges would finally have full control of their dockets, which would result in more efficient and fair adjudication of cases.
“Under this legislation, judges would be chosen by an independent merits panel with an appeals court that is filled with judges confirmed by the U.S. Senate. And, perhaps most importantly, the Attorney General would no longer be able to interfere and meddle in immigration court cases or make policy.
“Although challenges would still remain even after the creation of an independent immigration court—including a record long backlog in cases—this legislation would take important strides towards to a more just and efficient system.
“I would like to thank our Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chair, Zoe Lofgren, for her leadership and steadfast commitment to this issue. I appreciate all of her efforts in introducing the Real Courts, Rules of Law Act, and I urge all my colleagues to support this important legislation.”