Beyond Decisional Independence: Uncovering Contributors to the Immigration Adjudication Crisis

50 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2010 Last revised: 23 Jul 2015

See all articles by Jill E. Family

Jill E. Family

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School

Date Written: September 1, 2010


This article reveals the complicated dynamics of the immigration adjudication crisis. The lesson discovered is that it is important to look beyond any one contributor to the crisis when searching for solutions. Recent proposals for immigration adjudication reform acknowledge that fixing the system requires a multi-faceted approach. This article confirms the need for such an approach by showing how one popular cause of the crisis, a lack of decisional independence, only scratches the surface of what ails the immigration adjudication system.

While decisional independence is crucial, it is vital to understand and to emphasize that achieving decisional independence will not fix all of what ails immigration adjudication. Focusing attention away from this one factor reveals five other substantial contributors to the shortcomings of immigration adjudication: substantive immigration law; the conflicting signals of immigration adjudication; the lack of de facto adjudicator independence; the use of diversions from the system; and weakened judicial review. These other contributors are causes of some of the system’s deepest troubles. If these other contributors are not addressed, any reform likely will produce disappointing results.

Keywords: immigration Adjudication, Immigration

JEL Classification: K1

Suggested Citation

Family, Jill E., Beyond Decisional Independence: Uncovering Contributors to the Immigration Adjudication Crisis (September 1, 2010). Kansas Law Review, Vol. 59, p. 541, 2011, Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 10-24, Available at SSRN: or

Jill E. Family (Contact Author)

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School ( email )

3800 Vartan Way
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9380
United States
717-541-3911 (Phone)

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