Earlier this month, the Executive Office for Immigration Review ("EOIR")--the office that oversees our nation's Immigration Courts--issued a Myths vs. Facts sheet, to explain that migrants are bad people and that most of them lose their asylum cases anyway.

I am always suspicious of "myths vs. facts" pronouncements, and to me, this one from EOIR seems particularly propaganda-esque (apparently the Washington Post Fact Checker thinks so too, as they gave the document two Pinocchios, meaning "significant omissions and/or exaggerations"). In terms of why EOIR created this document, one commentator has theorized that the current agency leadership is tired of answering the same questions and justifying its actions, and so they created a consolidated document that could be used whenever questions from the public or Congress come up.

This is a plausible enough explanation, but I wanted to know more. Lucky, I have a super-secret source inside EOIR itself. I met up with my source in a deserted parking garage, where he/she/it/they (I am not at liberty to say which) handed me a sealed envelope containing an additional sheet of myths and facts. These myths and facts didn't make it into EOIR's final draft. But now, for the first time, in an Asylumist exclusive, you can read the myths and facts that EOIR did not want you to see. Here we go:

Myth: Aliens who appear by video teleconferencing ("VTC") equipment get just as much due process as anyone else. Maybe more.
Fact: The video camera makes aliens who appear by VTC look 20% darker than their actual skin tone (the skill level of EOIR's make-up crew leaves something to be desired). Since dark people are viewed as less credible and more dangerous, this increases the odds of a deportation order. Another benefit of VTC is that Immigration Judges ("IJ") can turn down the volume every time an applicant starts to cry or says something the IJ doesn't want to hear. This also makes it easier to deny relief. Fun fact: Newer model VTC machines come with a laugh track, which makes listening to boring sob stories a lot more pleasurable.

Myth: Immigration Judges don't mind production quotas. In fact, most IJs keep wall charts, where they post a little gold star every time they complete a case. At the end of the month, the IJ with the most stars gets an ice cream.
Fact: While some IJs relish being treated as pieceworkers in a nineteenth century garment factory, others do not. Frankly, they shouldn't complain. EOIR recently commissioned a study, which found that a trained monkey could stamp "denied" on an asylum application just as well as a judge, and monkeys work 30% faster. Even for human judges, EOIR has determined that it really shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to glance at an asylum case and write up a deportation order. At that rate, an IJ can deny six cases an hour, 48 cases per day, and 12,480 cases per year. Given these numbers, even IJs who insist on some modicum of due process should easily complete 700 cases per year (as required by the new production quota). And they better. Otherwise, it's good bye homo sapien, hello pan troglodyte.

Myth: Aliens who participate in Legal Orientation Programs ("LOP") spend an average of 30 additional days in detention, have longer case lengths, and add over $100 million in detention costs to DHS.
Fact: Knowing your rights is dangerous. It might cause you to exercise them. And people who exercise their rights are harder to deport. EOIR is working on a new LOP, which will teach aliens how to properly respond to a Notice to Appear ("Guilty, your honor!"), how to seek asylum ("I feel totally safe in my country!"), how to seek relief ("I don't need any relief - please send me home post haste!"), and how to appeal ("Your Honor, I waive my appeal!"). EOIR estimates that aliens who follow this new ROP will help reduce detention time and save DHS millions. The new ROP will help Immigration Judges as well. It's a lot easier to adjudicate an asylum case where the alien indicates that she is not afraid to return home. And faster adjudications means IJs can more easily meet their production quotas - so it's a win-win!

Myth: EOIR Director James McHenry got his job based on merit. He has significant prior management experience, and he is well-qualified to lead an agency with almost 3,000 employees and a half-billion dollar budget.
Fact: James McHenry's main supervisory experience prior to becoming EOIR Director comes from an 11th-grade gig stage-managing "The Tempest," by William Shakespeare. In a prescient review, his school paper called the show "a triumph of the Will." More recently, Mr. McHenry served as an attorney for DHS/ICE in Atlanta, and for a few months, as an Administrative Law Judge for the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer. In those positions, he gained valuable management experience by supervising a shared secretary and a couple of interns. When asked for a comment about her boss's management skills, Mr. McHenry's former intern smiled politely, and slowly backed out of the room.

Myth: In the EOIR Myths vs. Facts, the myths are myths and the facts are facts. That's because the Trump Administration is always honest and credible when it comes to immigration.
Fact: [Sounds of screeching metal and explosions]. Uh oh, I think we just broke the myths and facts machine...

So perhaps all is not as it seems. Sometimes, myths and facts get mixed up, especially in the Trump Administration, which has redacted human rights reports to show that countries are safe, buried other reports that don't say what they like, and claimed that asylum lawyers are making up cases to get their clients across the border. It's all in the grand tradition of the merchants of doubt, men and women who know better, but who obfuscate the truth--about tobacco, global warming, vaccines, whatever--to achieve a political goal (or make a buck). Why shouldn't EOIR join in the fun? But to return to our friend William Shakespeare, I have little doubt that, eventually, the truth will out. The question is, how much damage will we do to migrants and to ourselves in the meantime?

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com