by Neetu Chandak
Tennessee is projected to face a record number of deportations and asylum request rejections for fiscal year 2018.
The Memphis Immigration Court, the only immigration court in the state, is projected to order 3,225 deportations, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.
“Deportation orders in Tennessee, Arkansas and northern Mississippi have increased nearly 50 percent since 2016, the year before President Donald Trump took office,” the Tennessean reported. The Memphis Immigration Court not only works with cases in Tennessee, but also in Arkansas, northern Mississippi, and Kentucky.
Factors contributing to the crackdown on deportations and asylum requests include appointing tough judges, strict policy decisions by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and an upsurge in Central American immigrants seeking asylum, the Tennessean reported.
The Department of Justice hired Judges Matthew Kaufman and Richard Averwater in 2015 to the Memphis Court, both with higher asylum denial rates than the national average of 53 percent between fiscal years 2012 and 2017.
The Memphis Immigration Court also replaced retiring Judge Charles Pazar with Judge Vernon Miles in October 2017. Pazar had a 53-percent asylum denial rate as opposed to Miles, who had a 98-percent asylum denial rate in San Antonio between fiscal years 2012 and 2017.
Asylum requests increased as a result of Central Americans fleeing dangerous conditions from their home countries. Sessions, however, wrote in an opinion July 11, “An alien may suffer threats and violence in a foreign country for any number of reasons relating to her social, economic, family, or other personal circumstances,” but “the asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune.”
Sessions also issued case quotas in April, according to the Tennessean. Immigration judges must complete a minimum of 700 cases a year to maintain satisfactory performance.
This increased case load makes it so judges have to go through cases quickly, which makes them rely on their implicit biases, according to Judge Dana Marks, president emeritus of the National Association of Immigration.
“The biggest way to counteract implicit bias and to be sure you’re not allowing that to creep into your decisions as a judge is to spend more time hearing the case,” Marks said to the Tennessean.
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Neetu Chandak is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Neetu on Twitter.