U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has sought to speed up the deportation of illegal immigrants.
Sessions told immigration judges to only postpone cases in removal proceedings “for good cause shown.”
He said in an interim order that the “good-cause” standard “limits the discretion of immigration judges and prohibits them from granting continuances for any reason or no reason at all.”
Sessions has led efforts by the Trump administration to crack down on illegal immigration, including a “zero tolerance” policy that separated immigrant parents from their children while they were in U.S. detention. Trump abandoned the separation policy in June under political pressure.
Critical in showing “good cause” is whether a person is likely to succeed in efforts to remain in the United States, either by appealing for asylum or receiving some form of visa or work permit, Sessions said on Thursday.
Session’s order has however been criticised by immigration Lawyers.
Stephen Kang, an attorney with the ACLU immigrants rights project, described Sessions’ order as “troubling” and one of a series that “has moved in the direction of restricting due process rights for individuals who are in removal proceedings.”
Kang said Sessions seemed to portray immigrants seeking more time to prepare their cases as trying to “game the system and avoid deportation.”
Kang said removal proceedings were complex and people needed time “both to get lawyers to ensure that their due process rights are protected and time just to make sure their cases get a fair hearing.”
However, Sessions maintains that granting continuances solely for good cause would be an “important check on immigration judges’ authority” and demonstrate public interest in “expeditious enforcement of the immigration laws.”