AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

Immigration Judges Spotlight DOJ Hijacking of Court Independence

8/8/18 AILA Doc. No. 18080834. Removal & Relief
Belle Woods
Tessa Wiseman




WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) accused the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR), part of the Department of Justice (DOJ), of violating the Constitution, federal statute and the NAIJ's union contract by stripping cases away from a judge based on the administration's desired outcome.

"This grievance puts the spotlight on how fundamentally compromised our immigration court system has become," said Jeremy McKinney, AILA Treasurer. He added, "The Attorney General is taking advantage of the structural flaws of the immigration court system-which operates directly under his authority-to dramatically reshape federal immigration law and undermine the integrity of due process as guaranteed in the Constitution. It is impermissible to remove a judge from a case because the Attorney General or EOIR management disagrees with the outcome reached by the judge. The administration has given a 'my way or the highway' directive to immigration judges that illustrates exactly why the immigration courts must be independent of the Department of Justice. That's why AILA has launched a nationwide campaign calling upon Congress to pass legislation that creates an immigration court system in the form of an Article I court."

Additional Information

Immigration Courts Stripped of Independence

The grievance filed by NAIJ is just one example of how EOIR has undermined judicial independence. EOIR has also announced that it will impose new case completion quotas on immigration judges which will compromise the fairness and consistency in court decisions. In addition, EOIR issued a memorandum pressuring immigration judges to deny continuances, which are most often requested so that a respondent can find an attorney. Finally, Attorney General Sessions has already certified four Board of Immigration Appeals cases to himself and issued two precedent decisions that will further undermine due process. The administration's aggressive and unwise policies demonstrate why the Immigration Court must be restructured into an Article I court that is independent of the Department of Justice. To guarantee fundamental fairness and due process in every case, the immigration courts cannot operate under the control of the agency that is responsible for the prosecution and enforcement of immigration cases.

Additional Resources on Immigration Courts


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.