New Documents Reveal Immigration Judge Hiring Plan Designed to Stack the Courts, Prioritize Politics Over Justice

May 4, 2020

WASHINGTON—Today, the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the American Immigration Council released documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act litigation revealing the Department of Justice Executive Office for Immigration Review’s updated hiring plan for immigration judges and appellate immigration judges. The plan, approved by Attorney General William Barr on March 8, 2019, permits the EOIR director to circumvent normal hiring procedures and guts safeguards previously put in place to protect against politicized hiring.

According to the CQ Roll Call story published today on this plan, “The hiring plan documents show shortened hiring timelines and suggest preference given to judges with records of rulings against immigrants. The documents also demonstrate the influence held over the board by the political leadership of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Justice Department agency that oversees the nation’s immigration court system, particularly its director, James McHenry.”

AILA’s Executive Director Ben Johnson said, “AILA is deeply troubled by the politicized hiring of immigration judges for the furtherance of a partisan agenda. Americans expect courts to be neutral, yet the Department of Justice continues to improperly influence our nation’s immigration courts, all but ensuring that the political whims of the Trump administration can control immigration courts throughout the country. The board’s primary function is to ensure rule of law and impartiality, yet this plan allows for the EOIR Director to cherry-pick judges with the lowest asylum grant rates in the nation. Oversight agencies must immediately investigate EOIR’s problematic hiring practices and Congress should enact legislation creating an independent Article I immigration court.”

Beth Werlin, executive director of the American Immigration Council, added, “This updated hiring plan reflects the lack of transparency in the hiring process of appellate immigration judges and a strategy that only serves to erode public confidence in the immigration courts system. Politicized hiring undermines the fairness of our immigration courts which depends on the expertise and impartiality of judges. This hiring plan is designed to stack the courts, and in so doing, stacks the odds against individuals in need of protection and a fair day in court.”

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For more information, contact:

Maria Frausto at [email protected] or 202-507-7526; or George Tzamaras, [email protected], 202-507-7649.

Media Contact

Brianna Dimas, Director of Strategic Communications
[email protected]

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