The Justice Department on Wednesday released a two-pronged strategy to address the surge of illegal immigration on the nation's southwestern border that aims to increase the capacity of American courts to adjudicate immigration cases while assisting Central American governments in ameliorating a growing humanitarian crisis.
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said the department's Executive Office for Immigration Review will reallocate resources to prioritize cases involving migrants who have recently crossed the southwestern border and whom the Department of Homeland Security has placed into removal proceedings. "This refocusing of resources will allow EOIR to prioritize the adjudication of the cases of those individuals involved in the evolving situation on the southwest border.” EOIR Director Juan P. Osuna said.
The agency also will hire more immigration judges and issue a new regulation allowing for the appointment of temporary immigration judges. It also plans to expand access to legal resources and assistance for persons subject to removal proceedings.
Cole said the department also plans to partner with Central American governments to expedite the development of a regional strategy to combat transnational crime, particularly the prevalence of criminal gangs and militias responsible for trafficking in drugs and human beings. Officials say these actors also are both drivers and facilitators of the emerging migration pattern. “Individuals who embark on the perilous journey from Central America to the United States are subject to violent crime, abuse and extortion as they rely on dangerous human smuggling networks to transport them through Central America and Mexico,” Cole said.
To this end, Cole will meet with the five U.S. attorneys who represent the southwest border districts to develop strategies to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations on the U.S.-Mexico border. The Justice Department is also seeking congressional authorization to establish legal and law enforcement advisors at the U.S. embassies in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to aid each government in identifying and dismantling human smuggling organizations and networks.