Immigration Courts, Judicial Acceleration, and the Intensification of Immigration Enforcement in the First Year of the Trump Administration

  • Austin KocherEmail author
Part of the The Evolving American Presidency book series (EAP)


In this chapter, Austin Kocher provides an analysis of the immigration court system under the Trump regime. Kocher explains not only how this system functions as an apparatus of state exclusion, but how the immigration court is being radically reconfigured under Attorney General Jeff Sessions to strengthen this process of exclusion. As Kocher argues, the changes being made are designed to strip judges of discretion, limit opportunities for people with precarious citizenship status to remain in the United States legally, reduce the likelihood that these vulnerable people will obtain legal representation, and enroll the courts into the Trump regime’s drive to increase deportations at the expense of basic due process.


  1. Adams, M. 2010. Advancing the Right to Counsel in Removal Proceedings. Seattle Journal of Social Justice 9 (1): 169–183.Google Scholar
  2. Alden, E. 2009. The Closing of the American Border: Terrorism, Immigration, and Security Since 9/11. New York: Harper Perennial.Google Scholar
  3. American Bar Association. 2010. Reforming the Immigration System: Proposals to Promote Independence, Fairness, Efficiency, and Professionalism in the Adjudication of Removal Cases. Last accessed on: 13 Mar 2017.
  4. American Immigration Council. 2011. Understanding Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Law. Last accessed on: 13 Mar 2017.
  5. Braverman, I., N. Blomley, D. Delaney, and A. Kedar. 2014. The Expanding Spaces of Law: A Timely Legal Geography. Stanford: Stanford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Brodzinsky, S., and E. Pilkington. 2015. U.S. Government Deporting Central American Migrants to Their Deaths. The Guardian. Last accessed 13 Mar 2017.
  7. Burns, A. 2015. Choice Words from Donald Trump, Presidential Candidate. Last accessed on: 20 Apr 2018.
  8. Chacón, J. 2010. A Diversion of Attention? Immigration Courts and the Adjudication of Fourth and Fifth Amendment Rights. Duke Law Journal 59 (8): 1563–1634.Google Scholar
  9. Conklin, W.E. 1998. The Phenomenology of Modern Legal Discourse: The Juridical Production and the Disclosure of Suffering. Ashgate and Dartmouth.Google Scholar
  10. Coutin, S.B. 2002. Questionable Transactions as Grounds for Legalization: Immigration, Illegality, and Law. Crime, Law and Social Change 37 (1): 19–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Delaney, D. 2010. The Spatial, the Legal and the Pragmatics of World-Making: Nomospheric Investigations. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  12. Doherty, C. 2016. 5 Facts About Trump Supporters’ Views of Immigration. Last accessed on: 20 Apr 2018.
  13. Exec. Order No. 13767 [Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements], 3 C.F.R. 8793. 2017. Last accessed on: 13 Mar 2017, from Government Publishing Office Website:
  14. Exec. Order No. 13768 [Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States] 3 C.F.R. 8799. 2017. Last accessed on: 13 Mar 2017, from Government Publishing Office Website:
  15. Exec. Order No. 13769 [Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States] 3 C.F.R. 8977. 2017. Last accessed on: 13 Mar 2017, from Government Publishing Office Website:
  16. Exec. Order No. 13780 [Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States], 3 C.F.R. 13209. 2017. Retrieved from Government Publishing Office Website. Last accessed 22 Mar 2018.
  17. Executive Office for Immigration Review. 2018. Immigration Judge Performance Metrics. Last accessed on: 20 Apr 2018.
  18. Last accessed on: 22 Mar 2018, from Government Publishing Office Website:
  19. Foucault, M. 1996. Truth and Juridical Forms. Social Identities 2 (3): 327–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Giroux, H.A. 2017. White Nationalism, Armed Culture and State Violence in the Age of Donald Trump. Philosophy & Social Criticism 43 (9): 887–910.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hallett, M. 2014. Temporary Protection, Enduring Contradiction: The Contested and Contradictory Meanings of Temporary Immigration Status. Law & Social Inquiry 39 (3): 621–642.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hernández, D.M. 2008. Pursuant to Deportation: Latinos and Immigrant Detention. Latino Studies 6 (1): 35–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Heyman, J. 1995. Putting Power in the Anthropology of Bureaucracy: The Immigration and Naturalization Service at the Mexico-United States Border. Current Anthropology 36 (2): 261–287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hiemstra, N. (2013). “You Don’t Even Know Where You Are”: Chaotic Geographies of U.S. Migrant Detention and Deportation. In D. Moran, N. Gill, & D. Conlon (Eds.), Carceral Spaces: Mobility and Agency in Imprisonment and Migrant Detention (pp. 57–75). Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.Google Scholar
  25. Hiemstra, N., and D. Conlon. 2018. Redactions, Denials, and Misdirection: Reading Between the Lines of Hardening Immigration Enforcement. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Geographers, April 11.Google Scholar
  26. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. 2017. Fiscal Year 2017 ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Report. Last accessed on: 22 Mar 2018.
  27. ———. 2018. Office of the Principal Legal Advisor (OPLA). Last accessed on: 20 Apr 2018.
  28. Johnson, K. 2009. Understanding Immigration Law. New Providence, RI: LexisNexis.Google Scholar
  29. Kawar, L. 2011. Legal Mobilization on the Terrain of the State: Creating a Field of Immigrant Rights Lawyering in France and the United States. Law & Social Inquiry 36 (2): 354–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. ———. 2015. Contesting Immigration Policy in Court: Legal Activism and Its Radiating Effects in the United States and France. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kubal, A. 2013. Conceptualizing Semi-Legality in Migration Research. Law and Society Review 47 (3): 555–587.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Legomsky, S. 2010. Restructuring Immigration Adjudication. Duke Law Journal 59 (8): 1635–1721.Google Scholar
  33. Manion, C. 2008. Agency Indiscretion: Judicial Review of the Immigration Courts. St. John’s Law Review 82 (2): 787–816.Google Scholar
  34. Markowitz, P. 2009. Barriers to Representation for Detained Immigrants Facing Deportation: Varick Street Detention Facility—A Case Study. Fordham Law Review 78 (2): 541–575.Google Scholar
  35. Marks, D.L. 2008. An Urgent Priority: Why Congress Should Establish an Article I Immigration Court. Bender’s Immigration Bulletin 13 (3): 1–21.Google Scholar
  36. ———. (2014, June 26). Immigration Judge: Death Penalty Cases in a Traffic Court Setting. CNN. Last accessed on: 13 Mar 2017, from CNN website:
  37. Martin, D.G., A.W. Scherr, and C. City. 2010. Making Law, Making Place: Lawyers and the Production of Space. Progress in Human Geography 34 (2): 175–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Motomura, H. 2009. The Rights of Others: Legal Claims and Immigration Outside the Law. Duke Law Journal 59 (8): 1723–1786.Google Scholar
  39. Mountz, A., R. Wright, I. Miyares, and A. Bailey. 2002. Lives in Limbo: Temporary Protected Status and Immigrant Identities. Global Networks 2 (4): 335–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Nader, L. 1972. Up the Anthropologist: Perspectives Gained from Studying Up. New York: Pantheon.Google Scholar
  41. National Association of Immigration Judges. 2013. The State of Our Courts: A View from the Inside. Last accessed on: 13 Mar 2017.
  42. ———. 2017. House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security Hearing on “Oversight of the Executive Office for Immigration Review.” November 1. Last accessed on: 20 Apr 2018.
  43. Nicholls, W. 2013. The DREAMers: How the Undocumented Youth Movement Transformed the Immigrant Rights Debate. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Ong Hing, B. 2012. Immigration Sanctuary Policies: Constitutional and Representative of Good Policing and Good Public Policy. UC Irvine Law Review 2: 247–311.Google Scholar
  45. Politico. 2016. Full Text: Donald Trump Immigration Speech in Arizona. Last accessed on: 20 Apr 2018.
  46. Ridgley, J. 2013. Cities of Refuge: Immigration Enforcement, Police, and the Insurgent Genealogies of Citizenship in U.S. Sanctuary Cities. Urban Geography 29 (1): 53–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Sarat, A., and C. Clarke. 2008. Beyond Discretion: Prosecution, the Logic of Sovereignty, and the Limits of Law. Law & Social Inquiry 33 (2): 387–416.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Sessions, J. 2017a. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Delivers Remarks to the Executive Office for Immigration Review. Last accessed on: 22 Mar 2018.
  49. ———. 2017b. Memorandum for the Executive Office of Immigration Review. Last accessed on: 22 Mar 2018.
  50. Slaughter, S. 2017. #TrumpEffects: Creating Rhetorical Spaces for Latinx Political Engagement. The Latin Americanist 60 (4): 541–576.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Slavin, D., and D. Marks. 2011. Conflicting Roles of Immigration Judges: Do You Want Your Case Heard by a “Government Attorney” or by a “Judge”? Bender’s Immigration Bulletin 16 (1785): 1785–1792.Google Scholar
  52. Southern Poverty Law Center, & Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights. 2016. Families in Fear: The Atlanta Immigration Raids. Last accessed on: 13 Mar 2017.
  53. Stillman, S. 2018. When Deportation Is a Death Sentence. The New Yorker.Google Scholar
  54. Tesler, M. 2018. Islamophobia in the 2016 Election. The Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Politics: 1–3.Google Scholar
  55. Tichenor, D. 2009. Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  56. Tolentino, J. 2016. Trump and the Truth: The “Mexican” Judge. Last accessed on: 20 Apr 2018.
  57. Trump, D. 2016. Immigration Reform that Will Make America Great Again. Last accessed on: 20 Apr 2018.
  58. Voss, K., and I. Bloemraad. 2011. Rallying for Immigrant Rights: The Fight for Inclusion in 21st Century America. Berkeley: University of California Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wadhia, S.S. 2015. Beyond Deportation: The Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Immigration Cases. New York: New York University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice StudiesUniversity of Michigan-DearbornDearbornUSA

Personalised recommendations