The New York Times reports that on February 8, the American Bar Association "endorsed a recommendation for a separate immigration court system that would be similar to federal courts that decide tax cases".
The Times notes "immigration courts are not courts at all in the way Americans generally think of them. They are part of the Department of Justice, not the federal judiciary, and the judges, although they wear robes and sit in formal courtrooms, are employees of the attorney general".
"The courts have become ‘an overwhelmed system choked by an exploding caseload,’ said Lawrence Schneider, a principal author of the report, which was ordered 18 months ago by the association’s immigration commission, a nonpartisan panel of lawyers who monitor immigration laws and recommend changes."
"In 2008, the report found, Homeland Security agents detained 378,582 immigrants and deported more than 358,000. Last year, the report found, with enforcement continuing at a similar pace, 231 immigration judges heard more than 300,000 cases, an average of more than 1,200 for each judge, or about three times the load of federal district judges".