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Justice Department imposes quotas on immigration judges

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James McHenry, director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, used similar language in an email Friday that details the new measures for the department’s approximately 350 immigration judges.

“Using metrics to evaluate performance is neither novel nor unique to (the Executive Office for Immigration Review),” McHenry wrote. “The purpose of implementing these metrics is to encourage efficient and effective case management while preserving immigration judge discretion and due process.”

The Associated Press obtained a copy of McHenry’s memo and performance plan, whose contents were first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The measures are highly specific. A judge who completes more than 560 cases a year but fewer than 700 “needs improvement.” Deciding fewer than 560 cases a year is deemed unsatisfactory.

The Justice Department said Monday that judges complete an average of 678 cases a year.

Under one benchmark, judges must rule the same day on every plea by asylum seekers to pass an initial threshold of establishing “credible” or “reasonable” fear to earn a satisfactory mark, unless the Homeland Security Department is responsible for them failing to show. Anything less than 80 percent is considered unsatisfactory.

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The National Immigration Judges Association, whose recent collective bargaining agreement allows for performance metrics, strongly opposes the numerical targets and will explore options under federal labor law, said Dana Leigh Marks, a union spokeswoman.

“We believe the imposition of numerical performance metrics is completely, utterly contrary to judicial independence,” said Marks, who is also an immigration judge in San Francisco. “We believe assessing quality is fine, not quantity.”

Judges can argue that the nature of their cases justifies a lower completion rate, but Marks said keeping logs will add to their work burden and potentially create more backlog. She also said people may be more inclined to appeal decisions by arguing that the quotas denied them a fair hearing.

Laura Lynch, senior policy counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said immigration attorneys were deeply concerned that cases will be “rushed through.”

“Subjecting judges to numerical goals undermines one of the core principles of our judicial system, which is really a fair day in court,” she said.

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Furious Nicola Sturgeon lashes out at Boris over Indyref2 – 'Can't stand in the way!'

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NICOLA Sturgeon has furiously lashed out at Boris Johnson over a second Scottish independence referendum, as she argued the Prime Minister “cannot stand in the way”.

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Scotland out in the cold: 'We want you to stay’ result plummets over Scottish independence

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THE number of people concerned about Scotland remaining part of the UK has plummeted in a bombshell new poll.

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Pentagon chief declares ‘ironclad’ U.S. commitment to Israel

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TEL AVIV, Israel — U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday declared an “enduring and ironclad” American commitment to Israel, reinforcing support at a tense time in Israeli politics and amid questions about the Biden administration’s efforts to revive nuclear negotiations with Israel’s archenemy, Iran.

Austin’s first talks in Israel since he became Pentagon chief in January come as the United States seeks to leverage Middle East diplomatic progress made by the Trump administration, which brokered a deal normalizing relations between Israel and several Arab states.

After meeting with Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Tel Aviv, Austin said he had reaffirmed “our commitment to Israel is enduring and ironclad.” Austin made no mention of Iran. Gantz, in his own remarks while standing beside Austin, said his country views the United States as a “full partner” against threats, “not the least, Iran.” Neither official took questions from reporters.

“The Tehran of today presents a strategic threat to international security, the entire Middle East and to the state of Israel,” Gantz said in his prepared statement. “We will work closely with our American allies to ensure that any new agreement with Iran will security the vital interests of the world and of the United States, prevent a dangerous arms race in our region and protect the state of Israel.”

Yoel Guzansky, a senior fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies, a Tel Aviv think tank, said Austin’s visit is important in part because it is the first by a member of President Joe Biden’s Cabinet.

“They want to show that they did come here with clean hands and they want to listen,” Guzansky said. “They want to listen to Israel’s worries and perhaps other partners’ worries about the negotiation about Iran.”

Austin is steeped in the finer points of Middle East defense and security issues. He served four years as head of U.S. Central Command, capping a 41-year Army career that included commanding U.S. forces in Iraq.

Flying overnight from Washington, Austin arrived in Tel Aviv in the tense aftermath of the country’s fourth inconclusive election in the past two years. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin last week gave embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the difficult task of trying to form a new government.

The key backdrop to Austin’s visit is the Israeli government’s concern about the Biden administration’s attempt to work out an arrangement to reenter the Iran nuclear deal, which in Israel’s view is fatally flawed. Netanyahu has for years described Iran as an existential threat to his nation due to Iran’s alleged pursuit of a nuclear weapon and its support for militant groups like Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

Netanyahu, leading a state with its own secret nuclear weapons program, has accused Iran of seeking nuclear weapons to use with its ballistic missiles. Iran has maintained its nuclear program is peaceful. Netanyahu has also kept up his criticism of the Iran nuclear deal, which, if followed, strictly limits Tehran’s ability to enrich and stockpile uranium, blocking it from being able to make a weapon.

“History has taught us that deals like this, with extremist regimes like this, are worth nothing,” Netanyahu said last week.

By coincidence or not, Austin’s arrived as Iran reported that its underground Natanz nuclear facility lost power Sunday just hours after starting up new advanced centrifuges capable of enriching uranium faster. If Israel caused the blackout, it would further heightens tensions between the two nations, already engaged in a shadow conflict across the wider Middle East.

Last week, an Iranian ship said to be acting as a Revolutionary Guard base off the coast of Yemen was struck by an explosion. Iran blamed Israel for the blast.

In addition to repeated assurances by Republican and Democratic administrations that the United States will endeavor to preserve Israel’s qualitative military edge over its regional adversaries, Washington for years has invested heavily in helping Israel develop missile defense technologies.

Iron Dome is one of the most-touted successes in Israel missile defense. It is a mobile anti-rocket system developed to intercept short-range unguided rockets. It has shot down more than 2,000 projectiles fired from the Gaza Strip since it was deployed a decade ago. The U.S. Army recently bought two Iron Dome batteries at the request of Congress to counter cruise missiles.

There are questions in Israel about U.S. intentions in shifting military priorities away from the Middle East in order to focus more intensively on China and Russia as more significant threats to U.S. security.

Iran is the central source of concern by Israel and by support groups in the United States. The Jewish Institute for National Security of America, or JINSA, argued in a report last week that such a shift in U.S. priorities would “send the wrong” signal as the Biden administration begins indirect talks with Iran on reviving the 2015 nuclear deal with international powers. President Donald Trump withdrew from it in 2018.

“With reduced defensive capabilities and perceived American retrenchment from the region, Tehran and its proxies will only be incentivized to pursue even more dangerous actions to destabilize its neighbors,” the JINSA report said.

Michael Makovsky, the president of JINSA and a former Pentagon official, said Austin’s visit is especially timely, given the Biden administration’s moves toward engaging Iran on its nuclear program.

“Embracing and strengthening Israel sends a pointed signal to Iran, which will only enhance a credible military option against Iran and U.S. leverage in the talks,” Makovsky said in a statement.

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