Friday, March 17, 2006

New Newark Immigration Judge Frederick Leeds

According to the EOIR web site, a new immigration judge is Frederick Leeds. This comes shortly after the retirement of Judge Strasser. The new judge probably would not start hearing cases until April 2006 (at the earliest). I did not see information on the EOIR web site describing Judge Leeds.

Update: in September 2006, EOIR listed information about Judge Leeds when he was sworn in. Warning: I cannot vouch for the accuracy of EOIR's posting. Please take the following as conveying EOIR's viewpoint, not that it is necessarily accurate.
Frederic G. Leeds was appointed as an immigration judge in March 2006. He received a bachelor of arts degree in 1983 from Columbia University and a
juris doctorate in 1987 from American University Washington College of Law.
From September 1998 to March 2006, Judge Leeds was in private practice in
Freehold, NJ. During this time, he served as a state and federal court arbitrator, court mediator, and a contract hearing officer for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Administrative Office of the Federal Courts. Judge Leeds also served as trial attorney from May 1997 to September 1998 with the Law Offices of Edward Hoagland in Somerset; from July 1996 to April 1997, with the Law Offices of Craig Terkowitz in Piscataway; and from June 1989 to March 1996, with
the Public Service Electric and Gas Company in Newark. From September 1988 to March 1989, Judge Leeds was an associate in the Law Offices of Leonard Franco. He is a member of the New Jersey, District of Columbia, and New York bars.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

2005 Statistics Show Need For More Judges and Appointed Counsel

The Department of Justice published its 2005 Annual Report of EOIR Statistics and it bolsters the need for more immigration judges to deal with a sharp increase in immigration cases along with the dire need for the right to appointed counsel, with a sharp decrease in the number of immigrants who have lawyers during their hearings.

The already abysmal percentage of immigrants who are able to find a lawyer to help them with their cases dropped dramatically in 2005. In 2001-2004, the percentage ranged from 42-48%, with the percentage in 2004 at 45%. In 2005, it dropped steeply down to 35%, which means nearly two-thirds of immigrants facing deportation have to proceed without having any appointed counsel to help them through the thicket of complex immigration laws. (By contrast, the percentage of immigrants who file appeals with the BIA that have lawyers is around 70%.)

In fact, even though the number of cases exploded from 260,000 to 314,000, the number of them who had lawyers to help represent them actually dropped from 118,000 to 110,000! A dire situation has become even worse.

Another area of grave concern is the growing number of pending immigration court cases. Delays in resolving a case impose a heavy burden on immigrants -- it is very costly, very stressful, and essentially puts their entire lives on hold until they can resolve their immigration status. Nobody should have to suffer in limbo, waiting for the government to resolve the immigration case, just because the government has not spent enough money to hire judges to deal with the cases in a timely way.

In Newark, the number of new cases exploded from 5,954 to 8,096 (36% increase) and in Elizabeth, NJ from 1,011 to 1,673 (65% increase!). For Newark, the number of cases completed hardly kept pace, going from 6,577 to 7,314 (just an 11% increase). In other words, in Newark, there were 2,142 cases added to the backlog more than the previous fiscal year but judges cleared only 737 more cases from their dockets than they did the previous fiscal year.

With the retirement of Judge Strasser and Judge Cabrera from Newark, and no new immigration judge appointed nearly a year after Judge Cabrera retired, the statistics for 2006 could be even worse.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Fasting To Oppose HR 4437's Awful Proposals

The House of Representatives passed HR 4437 and included a number of horrible provisions. Generally, one of them makes into criminals those who knowingly assist an immigrant without legal status. This would have a devastating impact on currently law-abiding workers who provide social services to all people, including those they know do not have legal immigrant status. Dozens of Chicago-area priests are holding a series of fasts, prayers, and petition drives to fight back against HR 4437, according to an article in The Chicago Tribune.

What Congress needs to do is to work on fixing the portions of the immigration law that are much too stringent -- for example, the absurdly broad definition of aggravated felonies, the unjust and nonsensical rules to disqualify those who commit minor crimes from staying in the United States.

Will Doctors Be Forced To Identify Undocumenteds?

According to the Battle Creek Enquirer, there is a repayment program for hospitals that would force doctors to identify how many of its patients are undocumented or out of immigration status. This would have a serious impact on whether people feel free to visit hospitals and doctors, which could lead sick people to avoid getting the medical care they need to avoid falling gravely ill (and endangering the health of their family, their neighbors, and their community).

Sounds like the federal government is sacrificing public health, welfare, and productivity for the sake of gathering sensitive information.
For health facilities to be eligible to receive the reimbursement funds, however, staff physicians must ask patients about their citizenship status — something opponents argue will place doctors in an ethical tight spot and ultimately usher in more health problems.