Press Release

Rep. Cuellar Helps Secures 50 New Immigration Judge Teams in Conference Committee

Congressman fights for immigration judges at the border

Washington | Olya Voytovich, DC Press Secretary (202-226-1583); Leslie Martinez, District Press Secretary (956-286-6007), March 11, 2019


Rep. Cuellar Helps Secures 50 New Immigration Judge Teams in Conference Committee

Congressman fights for immigration judges at the border


WASHINGTON— Congressman Henry Cuellar (TX-28), a member of the Conference Committee on Homeland Security Appropriations, announced that he helped secure 50 new immigration judge teams in the fiscal year 2019 appropriations package. This includes judges, support staff, technology and work space, in addition to many other border security measures and language that increases immigration court efficiency.


The Congressman has been a longtime champion for increasing immigration court efficiency at the border. In the FY18 Appropriations Bill, Congressman Cuellar helped secure 100 judge teams, totaling 484 immigration judge teams. With the addition of 50 judge teams in FY19, the Executive Office for Immigration Review will have a total of 534 immigration judge teams to address the current backlog of over 800,000 immigration cases. The goal is to field 750 judges nationwide, including supervisors.


Securing New Immigration Judges

For years, Congressman Cuellar has made it a priority to place additional immigration judges into border communities. He has secured:


·              In FY16, language hiring at least 55 new immigration judge teams, which includes judges, support staff, technology and work space, along with many other security measures to help process immigration cases and increase efficiency at the border;


·              In FY17, language hiring at least 10 judges;


·              In FY18, language hiring at least 100 judges;


·              In FY19, language hiring at least 50 judges.


For a total of 215 judges.


Increasing Court-Efficiency Initiatives

In addition to the increase in immigration judges, the bill increases court-efficiency initiatives in two ways. Specifically, it calls for modifying the procedure for immigration judges to issue oral, instead of written, decisions and encourages judges to use preliminary hearings to screen cases to address frivolous filings and reduce court times required to process them.


“Increasing the number of judges to process immigration cases is a common sense solution that should appeal to everyone, no matter how you feel about immigration policy,” explained Congressman Cuellar. “With a backlog of hundreds of thousands pending active cases, our immigration courts are in dire need of additional judges to expeditiously adjudicate these cases. For this reason, I requested additional judges at the border, so that we can expedite these processes and ensure the fair and humane treatment of migrants.”


Due in part to the lack of available judges, immigrants at the border are either detained for long periods of time or released into the United States with a promise to return at a later court date. Neither of those is a good option for immigrants or the enforcement of our laws. Having more judges at the border will help treat immigrants more fairly.”


Congressman Cuellar added, “I want to give special thanks to Speaker Pelosi, members of the conference committee, Chairwoman Lowey, and Appropriations Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee Chairman Serrano and Ranking Member Aderholt for working with me to help address the backlog of immigration cases. I will continue to work to secure additional judges, so that we may provide adequate assistance where it is needed most.”