Thursday, August 09, 2018
Federal immigration judges filed a formal grievance Wednesday against Atty. General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice, saying they want to stop federal law enforcement officials from interfering with their autonomy. The complaint from the National Assn. of Immigration Judges comes after Sessions removed Judge Steven Morley from a high-profile immigration case in July and replaced him with another judge who ordered the immigrant at the center of the proceedings swiftly deported. The Justice Department has since removed more than 80 cases from Morley, who sits in Philadelphia, through other administrative reassignments or appeal procedures, according to their complaint. "He is very, very disturbed over this," Ashley Tabaddor, president of the association, said of Morley, calling the case reassignments the latest example of the Trump administration undermining the independence of immigration judges to advance its political priorities.
Here is an excerpt from a letter written by several retired immigration judges:Last Thursday's case had been remanded by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In the absence of another explanation, it would seem that EOIR's management did not believe Sessions' purpose in remanding the case was for an Immigration Judge to then exercise independent judgment to ensure due process. The agency therefore removed the case from the docket of a capable judge in order to ensure an outcome that would please its higher-ups. While as former Immigration Judges and BIA Members with many decades of combined experience, we appreciate the pressures on EOIR's leadership, such interference with judicial independence is unacceptable. EOIR's management exists to fulfill an administrative function, not to impede on the decision-making process of its judges. EOIR more than ever needs leadership with the courage to protect its judges from political pressures and to defend their independence. As a democracy, we expect our judges to reach results based on what is just, even where such results are not aligned with the desired outcomes of politicians.
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