Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Immigration Crackdown Overwhelms Judges, NPR All Things Considered, Feb. 9, 2009:

In fiscal year 2007, the nation's 214 immigration judges oversaw nearly 350,000 cases. Dana Leigh Marks, who heads the National Association of Immigration Judges, says she spends 36 hours a week on the bench trying to keep up, and Marks doesn't even have basic resources that other judges take for granted.

"I'm lucky," Marks says. "Here in San Francisco, I have one-quarter of a law clerk. Throughout the country, the ratio of law clerks to immigration judges makes it so that most judges have one-sixth of a law clerk."

Marks says she can definitely feel like Lucy Ricardo on the chocolate-factory line. But with many defendants seeking refuge from persecution, the frenetic work pace is hardly a comedy.

"For some people, these are the equivalent of death penalty cases, and we are conducting these cases in a traffic court setting."

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