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Report recommends major changes to immigration system

America’s immigration adjudication system needs a major overhaul to ensure that it is fair, that immigration judges are independent and that the crippling backlog of immigration court cases is reduced.

That’s the conclusion of a new report released March 20 by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Immigration. It includes more than 100 recommendations on how to improve the system, including significant changes in the courts, on the border and within the federal agencies that enforce immigration law.

“Our nation’s immigration system is broken,” ABA President Bob Carlson said. “Tinkering around the edges will not fix it. We need fundamental reform in every aspect of the system.”

The report focuses primarily on two key principles:

  • Ensuring that immigrants and asylum-seekers are treated fairly and humanely, have access to legal counsel and are not detained without good legal cause.
  • Ensuring that immigration judges are given the independence they need to be fair, impartial arbiters. That includes removing them from the U.S. Justice Department.

The report includes many specific recommendations to remove political interference in the adjudication process, restore prosecutorial discretion, ensure due process in court proceedings and restore public faith in the impartiality of immigration courts.

Written by commission members and lawyers at Arnold & Porter, the report is an update of a 2010 report on the same subject. Download the new report at

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