Monday, June 27, 2022

‘Unprecedented’ Upheaval in Immigration Courts From Biden’s Bid to Reshape the Agency; Is There an Ideological Purge Going on in the Immigration Courts?

AP Photo/Elliot Spagat, File
‘Unprecedented’ upheaval in immigration courts from Biden’s bid to reshape the agency:
The Biden administration has been quietly packing the nation’s immigration courts, ousting Trump-hired judges and installing judges deemed to be friendlier to the immigrants whose cases they hear, in what one Justice Department official called an “unprecedented” injection of politics into the courts.
At least a half-dozen judges hired during the Trump years have been axed, including two this month in Arlington, Virginia.
They are part of a massive upheaval in the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which has seen four of its top officials pushed out of their jobs. The director was among the four and, for the first time in the agency’s history, was removed involuntarily.
“It’s an attempt to weaponize the courts along ideological lines,” said Matthew J. O’Brien, one of the two judges ousted from Arlington, Virginia. “It’s court packing on steroids. It’s court packing by deletion and then addition, because they’re getting rid of judges and they’re replacing them with people who meet their ideological framework.”
Mr. O’Brien was coming up on the end of his two-year probationary period, and the Justice Department, which runs EOIR, declined to convert his post to a permanent judgeship.
He said it’s exceptionally rare to use the probation period ouster, and it’s usually only done for cases of serious job misconduct such as sexual harassment. Trump administration officials said they couldn’t recall a single judge ousted after a probationary period because of politics. --->READ MORE HERE
Is There an Ideological Purge Going on in the Immigration Courts?
The Washington Times reports that the Biden administration has fired at least six immigration judges (IJs) who were hired under Trump, and suggests that DOJ is using political and ideological litmus tests in appointing new IJs. If there is an ideological purge going on in the immigration courts, it threatens judicial independence, but one way or another, the allegations will trigger a congressional investigation.
Background on the Immigration Courts. By way of background, IJs are judges, but unlike judges of the federal district and circuit courts, they are not located within the judicial branch. Rather, they are attorneys appointed by the attorney general (AG) to conduct certain immigration hearings, including removal proceedings under section 240 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Why does the AG need IJs? Section 103 of the INA largely vests the secretary of Homeland Security with authority for administering and executing the immigration laws (responsibilities that he shares with the secretary of State), but it makes clear that, when it comes to questions of law, the AG is in charge.
Thus, the AG is responsible for determining who should be admitted, who should be removed, and which aliens should be granted protection and relief from removal. Given that there were more than 1.6 million cases pending in the immigration courts at the end of March, however, the AG must delegate his authority, and the IJs and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) are his delegates.
The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), a DOJ component, houses the immigration courts and the BIA, and the director of that office has supervisory control over those adjudicatory bodies. That said, the director’s duties are largely ministerial, and he has no power to direct adjudications. --->READ MORE HERE
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