CLINIC Welcomes New EOIR Director, Calls for Transforming Immigration Courts

SILVER SPRING, Maryland — CLINIC applauds the nomination of David Neal for Director of the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, or EOIR, announced today.

“Each case that comes before our immigration courts is a human being, a story, a family, and the outcomes of cases can have life or death consequences,” stated Anna Gallagher, Executive Director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc., or CLINIC. “Despite the stakes, the issues that plague the immigration court system today — including lack of access to quality legal representation, insufficient resources, and a lack of diverse, culturally competent immigration judges — can ultimately deny people in vulnerable positions access to justice. As CLINIC welcomes David Neal, with his extensive immigration experience, depth of knowledge of EOIR, and prior leadership roles, we call on him and Department of Justice at large to invest in EOIR and transform it into an institution that upholds due process and fairness for all.”

A key program that will fall under Director Neal’s leadership is the Recognition and Accreditation Program, or R&A. The R&A program was first established in 1958 to build access to quality legal representation for low-income and indigent immigrants. It allows non-attorneys who have sufficient training and experience in immigration law to receive credentials from the Department of Justice as Accredited Representatives. The program contributes to racial equity in immigration legal services. It provides opportunities for individuals who may not have had the opportunity to attend law school due to socioeconomic and systemic racial barriers to practice immigration law, dramatically benefiting the whole system.

“The R&A program is currently severely underfunded and under-resourced, bringing the credentialing of new legal representatives to a virtual standstill,” said Karen Sullivan, CLINIC’s Advocacy Manager and Policy Advocate. “We urge the incoming Director to pay particular and immediate attention to this program. It is a key resource in ensuring that the most vulnerable have access to justice.”

Gallagher added: “CLINIC looks forward to opportunities to work with the incoming director in building an EOIR that reflects the fairness, due process, equal treatment, and justice that must be guaranteed to everyone, regardless of immigration status — a system that reflects the inherent dignity of every human being and our values.”