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AILA: EOIR Director Attempts to Buy Out Remaining Board Members to Solidify Control of Immigration Courts

Washington, DC – According to the Roll Call story published May 27, 2020, Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) Director McHenry sent the remaining members of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) a buy-out memo offering them financial compensation in exchange for early retirement or resignation. This memo was sent on April 17, 2020, during the global public health crisis, and highlights the continuing push by this administration to manipulate the functions of the BIA, the appeals court located within EOIR.

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson stated, “This administration has taken numerous steps to alter the composition and role of the BIA, all in an effort to gain more control over the immigration courts and influence court decisions. In recent months, it came to light that the EOIR Director was attempting to pack the immigration bench with more appointees who have among the lowest asylum grant rates in the country. Now, he is attempting to winnow existing members from the BIA and replace them with a roster of Appellate Immigration Judges, despite congressional and stakeholder concerns about politicization of the BIA. Last year, these new appellate judge positions were created out of thin air. They appear to have nearly identical job functions as the BIA members but the Appellate Immigration Judges can adjudicate both trial and appellate level cases at the same time and can be reassigned away from the BIA at the whim of the EOIR Director.”

“This effort shows a complete disregard, or at the very least a failure to appreciate how our judicial system is supposed to work to provide a fair day in court. In 2003, Attorney General Ashcroft purged several members of the BIA, a political move that was severely criticized and ultimately undermined the credibility of our court system. These recent efforts by this administration make it even clearer that our nation urgently needs an immigration court system that is independent, fair and impartial.”


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 20052830.