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Members of Congress Tell Attorney General: Stop Attack on Immigration Judges Union

Eighty Members of Congress signed on to a letter led by Rep. Linda Sánchez (CA) to urge Attorney General Barr to withdraw the DOJ petition to decertify the the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ)/IFPTE Judaical Council 2. Joining the NAIJ in supporting the letter was the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), who have been active in advocating for Immigration Judges union rights and for reforms to ensure judicial independence and due process in the Immigration Court.

In the letter, sent to William Barr, the U.S. Attorney General and head of the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Members of Congress requests that the DOJ cease its effort to strip the Immigration Judges of their unions rights. The DOJ filed a petition to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to reclassify Immigration Judges as "management officials" and thus ineligible for union representation, which would effectively decertify the NAIJ were the FLRA to side with the DOJ's argument.

However, in 2000 the DOJ, under Attorney General Janet Reno, filed a similar petition making the same argument for Immigration Judges to be considered management officials. The FLRA's investigated and determined that Immigration Judges did not meet the criteria that for management officials.

In the time since the 2000 FLRA decision, the NAIJ has shared its analysis of the DOJ's continued erosion of judicial independence, due process. and fairness. More recently, just two weeks after the DOJ filed its petition to decertify the NAIJ, the DOJ enacted an intern rule that further removes any semblance of an independent, non-political court system which ensures due process rather than political expediency.

In a press release, Rep. Sanchez remarked, “DOJ's idea to strip immigration judges of their collective bargaining rights is yet another offensive example of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant agenda.”

IFPTE President Paul Shearon commented that the DOJ's "attempt to silence the Immigration Judges comes at a time when DOJ is expanding its control over the adjudication process and as the union continues to offer transparency and analysis on the Immigration Court while advocating for due process and judicial independence... The National Association of Immigration Judges, IFPTE Judicial Council 2, has demonstrated both an effective voice for its members and the public good by advocating for a better, more functional Immigration Court. IFPTE applauds the Members of Congress who stand with the Immigration Judges' right to union representation."

Judge Ashley Tabaddor, President of the NAIJ, acknowledged "the leadership of Congresswomen Sánchez in organizing this letter and her steadfast support of the immigration judges across the nation. NAIJ remains confident the DOJ will not be able to decertify the NAIJ and stifle the call for judicial independence and fairness."

In condemning the DOJ's decertification attempt, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said, "This is yet another direct attack on our union brothers and sisters, who are serving our country honorably, while being unfairly targeted by the Trump administration. We call for an end to these aggressive actions against the National Association of Immigration Judges so they can continue to be an independent voice for justice.”

Greg Chen, AILA's Government Relations Director, added, "Trying to decertify the judges’ union is only the latest tactic DOJ has turned to, after imposing strict performance quotas on judges and micromanagement of dockets."

Additional coverage of NAIJ and the DOJ's attacks on the Immigration Judges' union rights and judicial independence can be found here.


Read Rep. Linda Sánchez's press release with quotes from NAIJ President Ashley Tabaddor, IFPTE President Paul Shearon, AFL-CIO President Ricahrd Trumka, and AILA Government Realtions Director Greg Chen

Read the letter signed by 80 Members of Congress urging A.G. Barr to withdraw the DOJ petition to decertify the NAIJ union

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