June 6, 2011 4:00 A.M.
Broken Immigration Courts
It’s worse than you think.

Imagine a court system in which defendants routinely fail to show up and suffer no consequences. Where orders issued by the courts are routinely ignored. Where deceptive statistics are reported to Congress. You’d call that a crisis, wouldn’t you?

But it’s just another day in the life of America’s immigration courts.

These administrative tribunals are part of the Justice Department’s Executive Office of Immigration Review and include more than 250 judges considering hundreds of thousands of cases a year involving aliens seeking asylum or other forms of relief from deportation. And yet this system, like much of the rest of our immigration apparatus, resembles the old Soviet joke, in which employees pretend to work and bosses pretend to pay them. They are, in the words of former immigration judge Mark Metcalf, “play courts