US News Writer
In today’s day and age, the topic of immigration is very controversial and while everyday people may have different opinions, the only opinions that matter are those Judges in the Immigration courts. These professionals decide the fate of immigrants and/or migrants on whether they should be allowed to stay in the United States or be deported. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is tasked with watching over Immigration appeals in the 60 Immigration courts around the country and the 500 Judges. This department, EOIR, is a part of the Department of Justice (DOJ).
The Immigration and National Law Committee is one of the many committees at the New York City Bar that believes that the Immigration court system should be independent of the DOJ. They write that the DOJ has purposedly, “prioritized the administration’s political agenda over fairness in the Immigration Courts.” However, regardless, James McHenry, the former Director of EIOR summed up the mission of his department saying, “The primary mission of EIOR is to adjudicate immigration cases by fairly, expeditiously, and uniformly interpreting and administering the Nation’s immigration laws.” McHenry was chosen in 2017 by the former Attorney General Jeff Session to lead the EIOR. He was then followed by Attorney General William Barr in 2019.
Merrick Garland, the present United States Attorney General, appointed in 2021, chose McHenry’s replacement. His choice was the former leader of the Immigration Judge Appeal, David Neal on September 24, 2021. In his statement released regarding the appointment of Neal, he discussed that “David Neal brings invaluable experience that will help further EIOR’s mission.”
Neal graduated from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and received his Divinity from Harvard University, as well as his Juris Doctor from Columbia Law School. He is currently a part of the District of Columbia and New York bars. He holds many experiences before his appointment as Director of the EIOR. From 2009 to 2019, he held the Chief Judge position at the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the same Board that he now oversees. Neal also served as the Vice-Chairman, Immigration Judge, Assistant to the Director, and the Assistant Chief Immigration Judge. In addition, to his past achievements in the courts, he also served as chief counsel of the Subcommittee on Immigration in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. David Neal has quite a resume, which accumulates his skills and makes him ready for the high honor of being the director of EIOR.
As the Director of the EIOR, Neal would oversee the Chairman of the BIA, as well as the Chief Immigration Judge and the Chief Administration Hearing Officer. The Chairman of the BIA, David H. Wetmore who was appointed in 2020, goes over appeals from the Immigration Judges, as well as from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Immigration Judges, a part of the Office of Chief Immigration Judge (OCIJ), run by Tracy Short also appointed in 2020, make and review the policies regarding Immigration. The Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO), run by former Director of EIOR, James McHenry, watches over Administrative Law Judges who go to the trials and make the final decisions regarding the problems or controversies of the case. Newly appointed Director David Neal plays the fundamental role of making sure all cases regarding Immigration run smoothly through these departments under the EIOR.
In 2019 David Neal resigned as the head of the Immigration Judge Appeal. He made no comment regarding why he left but the major theory revolves around, the added pressures on the Immigration courts during Trump’s Administration. It is no secret, that there are fundamental differences between how the Trump Administration and the new Biden Administration act on Immigration. Revolving around President Biden, his plans for major reforms, especially the newly passed U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, can have a great effect on the Immigration Courts, which in return has important effects on the EIOR. The U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021, among other things, would allow undocumented Immigrants to have more of a chance of becoming U.S. citizens. In exchange, the Immigration courts which have a backlog of Immigration cases would feel some relief. This completely is changed from 2019, when there was an increase in Immigration cases and where 4 out of 5 cases resulted in deportation.
Newly appointed Director David Neal has the experience from years of hard work and dedication to follow the EIOR’s mission, with fairness, efficiency, and consistently following the uniform immigration laws set by the United States constitution.
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