AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA: DOJ Seeks Termination of Immigration Judges Union, Further Undermining Court Independence

8/15/19 AILA Doc. No. 19081591. Removal & Relief
George Tzamaras
Tessa Wiseman

WASHINGTON, DC – On Friday, August 9, 2019, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) petitioned the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) in an effort to strip immigration judges of their right to be represented by a union. In the petition, DOJ asserts that immigration judges should be considered “management officials” and therefore should be excluded from forming or joining labor unions. The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), the recognized collective bargaining representative of our nation’s immigration judges, deemed DOJ’s claim as “absurd” and said that DOJ’s actions are “designed to silence judges and their union.” Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) of the House Judiciary Committee also decried the move in a statement this week.

Benjamin Johnson, Executive Director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) responded, “DOJ’s petition to decertify the NAIJ is an effort to suppress the voices of immigration judges, who have denounced DOJ efforts to strip their authority. Ironically, while the petition contends that immigration judges are ‘management officials,’ this Administration has made every effort to limit the judges’ independence, management, and authority – micromanaging dockets, limiting discretion in adjudication, and imposing strict performance quotas.

Congress must protect the sanctity of due process, efficiency, and fairness in the court system by exercising its oversight authority over these politically motivated actions of the DOJ. Oversight alone is not enough; these actions are only possible because DOJ has total control over the immigration court system. America can no longer afford to have a system that can be so easily manipulated. AILA urges Congress to pass legislation establishing an independent immigration court under Article I of the Constitution.”