AILA and the American Immigration Council Obtain EOIR Hiring Plan via FOIA Litigation

On April 21, 2020, AILA and the American Immigration Council obtained via FOIA litigation the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) Immigration Judge (IJ) and Appellate Immigration Judge (AIJ) Hiring Process, approved by Attorney General Barr on March 8, 2019. This document revises both the immigration judge hiring process implemented on March 28, 2018, (see Tab B) and the process for hiring Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) members implemented on September 12, 2007, (see Tab C).

Read the May 4, 2020, CQ Roll Call story entitled, "DOJ hiring changes may help Trump’s plan to curb immigration" highlighting the plan.


  • On March 17, 2020, AILA and the American Immigration Council filed federal litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the DOJ Office of Information Policy’s failure to disclose information in response to AILA’s FOIA request submitted on October 15, 2019.
  • Housed within the DOJ, the EOIR is vulnerable to executive branch interference, a structural flaw which the current administration has exploited and which undermines the very integrity of the system. Stakeholders and policy makers have raised concerns that DOJ’s hiring practices for AIJs have been improperly influenced by the Trump administration’s political agenda.
  • Using this plan, EOIR recently added nine new AIJs to the BIA. Eight of the nine hires were prior IJs with some of the highest asylum denial rates in the nation.
    • On Friday, May 1, EOIR hired three new AIJs – (1) Philip J. Montante Jr., (2) Kevin W. Riley, and (3) Aaron R. Petty. According to TRAC, from FY 2014- 2019, former IJ Montante denied 96.3 percent asylum cases and former IJ Riley denied 88.1 percent asylum cases.
    • The San Francisco Chronicle first reported in August 2019 that EOIR promoted six IJs to the immigration appeals court, all of whom had high rates of denying immigrants’ asylum claims and come from the harshest jurisdictions with the lowest asylum grant rates in the nation.
    • CQ Roll Call reported in October 2019 that DOJ quietly changed an already opaque hiring procedure to permanently place these IJs that had been repeatedly accused of bias on the BIA.

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Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20042931.

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