Immigration judges frustrated with the Trump administration’s tightening of control over the Department of Justice based immigration court system are resigning from the bench in higher than normal numbers, many out of frustration, according to a report by CNN. The crack down began under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and has continued under Attorney General William Barr.
At the same time, the Trump administration has increased the number of judges to its highest number as the system is overwhelmed with cases stemming from the recent border surges.
Lisa Dornell loved her job. For 24 years, she sat on the bench in Baltimore’s immigration court, hearing hundreds of cases of immigrants trying to stay in the United States.
“It was an honor. It was a privilege to be able to preside over so many different cases and be able to grant relief to people who needed relief,” Dornell told CNN in an interview.
But she walked away from that job in April — a decision that still invokes a wave of emotion when she recalls it. “The toxic environment made it both harder and easier to leave,” Dornell said.
Over the past year, in the heat of a border migration crisis, 45 judges have left, moved into new roles in the immigration court system — which is run by the Justice Department — or passed away, according to the department. That’s nearly double the number who departed their posts in fiscal years 2018 and 2017, when 24 and 21 judges left, respectively, according to data provided by the judges union.
The reasons why individual judges have moved on from their posts on the bench vary, but in interviews with judges who left in recent months, one theme ties them all together: frustration over a mounting number of policy changes that, they argue, chipped away at their authority.
Their departures come as the Justice Department faces a backlog that exceeds 1 million cases. The bogged-down system has led to immigration cases being pushed out years in the future, leaving many immigrants residing in the US unsure if they’ll be allowed to stay or be ordered removed.
…The Trump administration was no exception. Trump’s first attorney general, Jeff Sessions, implemented a series of changes to the immigration court system that have continued under his successor, William Barr.
The Justice Department has imposed case quotas, given more power to the director charged with overseeing the courts, reversed rulings, curtailed judges’ ability to exercise discretion in some cases and moved to decertify the union of immigration judges.
Over time, those actions prompted immigration judges, some of whom were retirement eligible and had decades of experience, to leave the department despite initial plans to stay longer.
“I felt then and I feel now that this administration is doing everything in its power to completely destroy the immigration court system, the board of immigration appeal and the immigration system in general,” said Ilyce Shugall, who served as an immigration judge in San Francisco from 2017 until March of this year. “And I just couldn’t be a part of that.”
End excerpt please read the entire informative CNN report at this link.
On December 20, the Justice Department announced the investiture of 28 new immigration judges:
The Executive Office for Immigration Review will invest 28 new immigration judges today, bringing the immigration judge corps to its highest level in history with more than 465 immigration judges on the bench. Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Claire McCusker Murray will deliver opening remarks and Acting Chief Immigration Judge Christopher A. Santoro will preside over the investiture during a ceremony at the Department of Justice’s Great Hall in the District of Columbia.
After a thorough application process, Attorney General William Barr appointed Susan F. Aikman, Amelia C. Anderson, Dale E. Anderson, Philip A. Barr, Bianca H. Brown, Kevin L. Brown, Brian H. Burke, Jennifer Chung, Miguel A. Cordero-Gonzalez, James J. Crofts, Diane L. Dodd, Sheila E. Gallow, Andrea H. Hong, Lily C. Hsu, Bruce D. Imbacuan, Samia Naseem, David A. Norkin, Christopher V. Phan, Eugene H. Robinson, Marna M. Rusher, Jeremy J. Santoro, John J. Siemietkowski, Rantideva Singh, Philip P. Taylor, Gilda M. Terrazas, Ubaid ul-Haq, Lynn W. Wang, and Matthew H. Watters to their new positions…(Biographical information at this link)
Roll Call reported in October the Justice Department appointed several judges to the Board of Immigration Appeals who are accused of “bias”.
Trending: Update: Prominent DC Lawyer Who Served in Clinton Administration Was NOT Killed by Severe Turbulence on Business Jet
The Department of Justice has quietly changed hiring procedures to permanently place immigration judges repeatedly accused of bias to a powerful appellate board, adding to growing worries about the politicization of the immigration court system.
Documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests describe how an already opaque hiring procedure was tweaked for the six newest hires to the 21-member Board of Immigration Appeals. All six board members, added in August, were immigration judges with some of the highest asylum denial rates. Some also had the highest number of decisions in 2017 that the same appellate body sent back to them for reconsideration. All six members were immediately appointed to the board without a yearslong probationary period.
“They’re high-level deniers who’ve done some pretty outrageous things [in the courtroom] that would make you believe they’re anti-immigrant,” said Jeffrey Chase, a former immigration judge and past senior legal adviser at the board. “It’s a terrifying prospect … They have power over thousands of lives.”…
A liberal lawyer noted the 3.5% rate of granting of asylum by the new appointees.
In total, the six immigration judges promoted to the Board of Immigration appeals granted 29 asylum cases in FY2019 and denied 809, a combined asylum grant rate of just 3.5%. https://t.co/mVAvriAgxU
— Aaron Reichlin-Melnick (@ReichlinMelnick) December 26, 2019
Another liberal lawyer notes that before President Trump the asylum grant rate in Memphis was 50%. Now…
New data on immigration judge denials for #asylum FY2019. Memphis judges' denials:
Miles: 100% denied (just left the bench)
Ward: 98% (currently visiting from KY)
Averwater: 90% (retired)
Kaufman: 87% (moved to CO)
Before Trump, our court granted ~50%.
— Lily S. Axelrod (@LilySAxelrod) December 26, 2019
The asylum system in recent years has been turned into a racket by open borders immigration groups abetted by liberal judges. The Trump administration has fought to correct a system intended to protect those in imminent danger that has been abused as a ‘get in the country ahead of the line’ sham.