Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that he plans to increase the number of immigration judges by 50 percent by the end of the year as he welcomed a new class of such judges on Monday.
“Counting you along with existing judges, we currently have the most active immigration judges in history. This class puts us at the top, but we are not going to stop there,” Sessions said in remarks to 44 judges for the Executive Office for Immigration Review.
James McHenry, director of EOIR, said the additions of 44 immigration judges and two new supervising judges make for the largest class of judges in the department’s history and reiterated the attorney general’s pledge, saying the department will “keep hiring until we run out of space or money.”
The surge comes as the Trump administration is still recovering from the controversy stemming from its short-lived policy of separating families who illegally crossed the border. Trump officials have struggled to reunite families, blowing past court-mandated deadlines for doing so. And last week, the administration said it would forge ahead with a plan to keep detained migrant families together through the course of immigration proceedings.
On Monday, Sessions told the new judges that even with the increase in manpower, it is “critically important” for them to manage their cases.
“You have to manage your docket and staff very well cases need to be moved to conclusion,” Sessions said.
Sessions also thanked the Office of Management and Budget as well as the House and Senate Appropriations committee leaders for providing the funds necessary for the new hires.
Sessions reiterated his goal of deterring illegal entry across the border to reduce the number of cases judges would have to handle and eventually allow them to spend more time on their assigned cases.
“Remember we will be asking a lot because right now this country is facing a big challenge, and you’ll be out there with heavy caseloads, heavy responsibilities and I know you are up to the task,” he said.