Class is in session. On July 11, 2012, Human Rights Initiative (HRI) attended USCIS University, a monthly lecture relating to a current immigration law-related topic. The Honorable Judge Baird of the Dallas Immigration Court spoke to immigration attorneys and legal staff from the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Judge Baird announced the latest news from the Dallas Immigration Court, consisting of a new E-Registration system for attorneys, an ever-increasing number of frivolous findings, and changes to translation services within the court. Further, Judge Baird indicated some key statistics with regard to the Dallas Immigration Court, including:

    •  As of July 11, 2012 there are 5300 pending cases in the Dallas Immigration Court (compared to 3000 pending cases in June, 2009).
    • 1000 Appearance Notices (NTA’s) are ready to be filed, which will increase the pending cases in Dallas Immigration Court to around 6000. Right now Judge Baird and several of the judges are scheduling out two years for non-detained cases.
    • Currently, 83.6% of cases at the Dallas Immigration Court result in a removal order.
    • The Immigration Court is seeking volunteers for clerk positions to help with the backlog of cases and understaffing at the Court. Volunteers must be at least seniors in high school and should contact Court Administrator Barbara Baker, 214-767-1814, if interested.

    Judge Baird indicated that the Department of Justice has taken the first steps to creating electronic filing at the court. The process will begin with an E-Registration database. E-Registration, set to debut in Fall, 2012, will assign a code, similar to a bar number, to each attorney working in any United States immigration court. E-Registration will be required in order to practice within any immigration court.

    Frivolous asylum claims are on the rise. Judge Baird indicated that a new pattern has arisen in the past 90-120 days. Judge Baird said that the rise in frivolous asylum claims is an attempt to get work authorization by any means necessary. Judge Baird reminded attorneys that consequences of a frivolous application attach the moment the application is filed. Frivolous consequences stem from statements or responses that are untrue or set forth for an improper purpose. Judge Baird called for an end of the frivolous applications so that limited court resources can be used for legitimate asylum claims.

    Debuting this Fall, the Dallas Immigration Court will replace its consecutive translation services with simultaneous translation services. That’s to say that every conversation that is on the record will be simultaneously translated for the individual using the Court’s translation services. Judge Baird cited the Los Angeles Immigration Court’s success with this initiative.

    Finally, Judge Baird reminded those in attendance that prosecutorial discretion is not relief from the immigration court. Rather, prosecutorial discretion is a matter that should be worked out between the immigration attorney and the Assistant Chief Counsel before the individual’s hearing date.

    Deferred Action
    In addition to Judge Baird’s lecture at USCIS University, several members from USCIS addressed the June 15, 2012 memo concerning Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. USCIS stressed the importance for organizations to advise their clients that no procedural system is yet in place for deferred action for childhood arrivals. USCIS will soon release more details about the procedure for deferred action for childhood arrivals.

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