Dear NAIJ Members,
On Friday, September 27, 2019, the National Press Club (NPC) convened a Headliners “Newsmaker” Press Conference entitled “Immigration Courts in Crisis.” Moderated by NPC President and award-winning AP Washington Investigations Editor journalist Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak, the panel presentation explored sweeping and controversial changes in the nation’s Immigration Courts. The presentations were led by NAIJ President Ashley Tabaddor, followed by the ABA President Judy Perry Martinez, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Second Vice President Jeremy McKinney. The trio expressed broad consensus around key concerns undermining the independent decision making authority of Immigration Judges and compromising the integrity of the court.
Judge Tabaddor honed in on the specifics of how the decisional independence of judges and the independence of the court is under attack by the Department of Justice through their actions ranging from the imposition of unrealistic and unreasonable quotas and deadlines to the recent announced DOJ regulation, effective immediately, which collapsed into a single individual the role of the chief policy director with the role of the chief appellate judge. The EOIR Director was previously prohibited from engaging in any judicial role over cases because of the political nature of the position, but has now been given authority to interfere in individual cases, direct the result of cases, and to sit as an appellate judge over immigration judge decisions. Judge Tabaddor also reported on Friday’s filing of two unfair labor practice petitions against the Department of Justice with the Federal Labor Relations Authority. The ULPs stem from the Agency’s efforts to decertify the Association under the guise of reclassifying the Immigration Judges as managers and policy-makers and its subsequent personal attacks on the Association leadership from the podium of the Department of Justice.
ABA President Perry Martinez (Judy) was a powerful voice on a number of important issues ranging from support for fair proceedings and the rule of law to the importance of effective representation for individuals in removal proceedings.
Finally, AILA Vice President McKinney (Jeremy) reported on the impact of the “tent” courts that have been shrouded in secrecy with wholly inadequate operational logistics related to attorney access. He said, “DHS not only has complete control over access to these facilities, but DHS also has complete control over attorney/client representation when migrants are on the U.S. side of the border.” He explained that the program creates insurmountable hurdles to attorney representation, and as a result, as of the end of June, only 1.2% of asylum seekers had been able to obtain counsel.
The three speakers were aligned in the NAIJ’s call for a lasting solution to these and other problems plaguing the Immigration Court system — legislative action to restructure the courts in a manner offering independence from the Department of Justice, and the creation of an independent Article I Immigration Court.
Several national and local news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, CNN, and others, were present and have reported on the event. To watch the press conference, see:
For a sampling of the articles, please check out the NAIJ website at:
If you have any questions or comments, or if you would like to have copies of the ULPs or Judge Tabaddor’s remarks, please feel free to reach out to Judge Tabaddor directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your NAIJ Executive Board
Keep up the fight!
Every day, the Trump Administration is further reducing the Immigration Courts to “Kangaroo Courts” while Congress and the Article IIIs shirk their respective duties to protect Due Process!