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House Judiciary Committee to Hold Hearing on the Need for an Independent Immigration Court Removed from the DOJ

Witnesses to describe a dysfunctional immigration adjudication system with a one million case backlog


January 28, 2020
For Immediate Release

Contact: Jamie Horwitz, 202.549.4921

Wed. Jan 29 Hearing on Capitol Hill

WASHINGTON – The Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), will hold a hearing to examine judicial independence and the need for an independent Immigration Court removed from the Department of Justice at 9:30 a.m., Jan. 29. The nation’s immigration courts are dealing with a crushing million-case backlog, a lack of translators and resources, and threats to judicial independence, marred by political interference. The Associated Press recently documented the problems confronting the nation’s immigration adjudication system, where reporters observed “nonstop chaos” at immigration hearings in 11 cities.

WHO: Witnesses being called by the committee include: Ashley Tabbador, President, National Assn. of Immigration Judges (NAIJ); Judy Perry Martinez, President, the American Bar Assn. (ABA); and Jeremy McKinney, Second Vice President, American Immigration Lawyers Assn. (AILA).

WHAT: Congressional hearing on “Courts in Crisis: The State of Judicial Independence and Due Process in U.S. Immigration Courts”

WHEN/WHERE: 9:30 a.m., January 29, 2020, 2141 Rayburn House Office Building

“We are grateful that Rep. Lofgren and other members of the Judiciary Committee are focusing on the crisis confronting our nation’s Immigration Courts,” said National Association of Immigration Judges President Judge Ashley Tabaddor, who also serves as a U.S. immigration court judge in Los Angeles. “Unlike U.S. Tax and Bankruptcy Courts, our Immigration Courts are not an independent part of the judicial branch of government. We are a subsidiary unit of the U.S. Justice Department, and that connection to the same department that also prosecutes cases before our courts has created challenges.”

Over the past two years, NAIJ has been highly critical of the Justice Department’s moves to create a quota of 700 cases per year for every immigration judge and to pressure judges to process cases faster, irrespective of the law and the facts of the case. In a clear effort to silence those who know most about how U.S. immigration courts work – or fail to work – the Department of Justice has filed a petition with the Federal Labor Relations Agency to decertify the NAIJ as the legally recognized collective bargaining representative of the nation’s 440 U.S. immigration judges.

NAIJ has long advocated for Immigration Judges to be placed in an independent agency, similar to the federal courts that hear bankruptcy and tax cases, rather than under the control of the DOJ. In recent months, this move to create an independent agency to operate the immigration courts has been gaining traction on both sides of the aisle in Congress.

The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), founded in 1971, is a voluntary organization formed with the objectives of promoting independence and enhancing the professionalism, dignity, and efficiency of the Immigration Court. NAIJ is affiliated with the International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (IFPTE). Across the nation, IFPTE represents 80,000 highly-skilled, white-collar workers in both the public and private sectors and is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO. More information can be found at

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MEDIA ADVISORY - January 29 Hearing to Examine Judicial Independence

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