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11.06.19

NAIJ/IFPTE Responds to DOJ Attempts to Remove Immigration Judges' Union and Strip Judicial Independence from Immigration Court

This page compiles the latest developments regarding our efforts to maintain Immigration Judges' union rights, call for accountability for the DOJ, and advocate for reforming the Immigration Court

Updated 11.06.2019

Over the month of August 2019, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has acted to decertify the National Association of Immigration Judges/IFPTE Judicial Council 2 (NAIJ) as the Immigration Judges’ union. On August 9th, the DOJ petitioned the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to reclassify Immigration Judges as managers, thereby denying them collective bargaining rights and decertifying the NAIJ. The DOJ followed that poorly reasoned argument against Immigration Judges’ union by announcing an interim rule that took effect on announcement on August 26th, a rule which effectively abolishes the separation between DOJ’s enforcement role and the Immigration Court’s adjudicatory duties.

On September 27, at a press conference with the American Bar Association (ABA) and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), NAIJ President Ashley Tabaddor announced the union's filing of two Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges that cite the DOJ's petition to decertify the union and the DOJ's circulation of a racist anti-union blog post from a white supremacist website that singled out NAIJ leadership in late August.

The DOJ's actions not only undermine transparency and judicial independence, but also seek to silence the collective voice of Immigration Judges who have spoken out about the structural flaws, the danger of a politicized Immigration Court, the need to protect due process, and enhance judicial efficiency. The DOJ’s attempt to reclassify the Immigration Judges as managers and thus decertify the NAIJ follows a previous attempt in 2000 in which the FLRA ruled that Immigration Judges do not act as managers. In the time since that ruling, Immigration Judges’ authority has diminished.

While the DOJ’s argument for getting rid of the Immigration Judges has less merit today than it did in 2000, the move comes after NAIJ has called for a properly resourced Immigration Court independent of the law enforcement functions of the Executive Branch. The NAIJ has effectively advocated its position that reforming the Immigration Court is critical for fair and impartial decisions that are made in a just and efficient manner has gained support from various stakeholders and legislators from both parties.

In the midst of the DOJ’s maneuvers to diminish judicial independence and eliminate the NAIJ, the DOJ’s Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) – which oversees the Immigration Court – the circulated to all EOIR employees an anti-union screed that was published on a white nationalist website. The article defamed NAIJ union leadership in anti-Semitic terms as it justified the DOJ’s effort to decertify the union. In response, NAIJ President Judge Ashley Tabaddor and IFPTE President Paul Shearon requested EOIR take corrective actions. This racist attack only goes to show the value of effective union representation for Immigration Judges.

The Trump Administration has demonstrated hostility toward federal employee unions through egregious anti-union Executive Orders that violate federal law, by directing agencies to engage in bad-faith bargaining, and by nominating political appointees openly hostile to unions, and the DOJ’s effort to remove the NAIJ as the Immigration Judges union is the latest in an ongoing attacks on federal employees and the civil service.

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Talking Points, Issue Briefs, and General Information on the U.S. Immigration Court and Immigration Judges


Video: The Immigration Courts: Nothing Like What You Have Imagined [YouTube] -- In this four-minute video, NAIJ President and Immigration Judge Ashley Tabaddor explains how the structure of the U.S. Immigration Court complicates and violates due process and judicial independence and what reforms are necessary to guarantee judicial Independence and fairness.

NAIJ Briefing Paper: The Immigration Court - In Crisis and in Need of Reform [PDF] -- The NAIJ has prepared this paper in response to numerous recent inquiries from members of Congress and congressional staff regarding the day-to-day operations of the immigration court and the policy and administrative decisions that hamper the ability of immigration judges to discharge their duties and responsibilities under the law.

Here They Go Again: DOJ Attacks Judges Union! [PDF] -- This one-page NAIJ/IFPTE talking points memo outlines that the rationale the DOJ's uses in its petition to the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) to decertify the NAIJ was already settled by the FLRA in 2000 in a decision that reaffirmed the unions rights of Immigration Judges.

AILA Featured Issue: DOJ Moves to Decertify the Immigration Judges Union -- The American Immigration Lawyers Association webpage on the DOJ's effort to decertify the Immigration Judges' union features key documents and analysis.


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Recent Letters and Press Release Regarding NAIJ/IFPTE Judicial Council 2 and the U.S. Immigration Court



11.7.2019 - Statement by Hon. Ashley Tabaddor, President of Judges' Union (NAIJ), on Revelation of "Gross Irregularities" in DOJ Immigration Data

10.31.2019 - IFPTE Requests Congressional Hearings on Immigration Court and DOJ Effort to Decertify Immigration Judges' Union

10.18.2019 - Members of Congress Tell Attorney General: Stop Attack on Immigration Judges Union

10.16.2019 - Rep. Sánchez to DOJ: Don’t Strip Bargaining Rights of Immigration Judges

09.27.2019 - Judge Tabaddor at National Press Club: "We're Past Band-aid Solutions and Short Term Measures"

08.29.2019 - FWA Unions Urge Congressional Appropriators to Block DOJ Unionbusting of NAIJ

08.23.2019 - Statement by Immigration Judges Union on Major Change Announced to Immigration Courts

08.22.2019 - IFPTE/NAIJ Calls for Immediate Action after Department of Justice Circulates Racist, Antisemitic Attacks Against U.S. Immigration Judges

08.12.2019 - Trump Administration Seeks to Silence Federal Immigration Judges' Union

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NAIJ/IFPTE Judicial Council 2 in the News


OCTOBER
10.24.2019 - Let Immigration Judges Speak: Trump is keeping immigration judges, asylum officers, and ICE attorneys from speaking out about what they’re seeing (Slate)

10.15.2019 - Dozens of Lawmakers to Ask DOJ to Reverse Course on Immigration Judge Union Decertification (GovExec)

10.01.2019 - Immigration Judges File 2 Complaints about Labor Practices (Associated Press)


SEPTEMBER
09.30.2019 - Some Immigration Judges Say They Rule a Certain Way to Avoid Firing (Catholic Philly.com)

09.30.2019 - Trump Counterprogramming: New Immigration Crackdown While Ukraine Scandal Unfolds (Salon)

09.28.2019 - Legal Panel Says Changes to Immigration Courts Create Barriers to Justice and Due Process (National Press Club)

09.28.2019 - Judges, Lawyers Say Video Justice is Just Adding to the Mess within U.S. Immigration Courts (Dallas Morning News)

09.27.2019 - Immigration Judges Union Hits DOJ With Labor Charges (Law 360)

09.27.2019 - Immigration Judges Accuse Justice Department of Unfair Labor Practices (CNN)

09.27.2019 - Immigration Judges Union Files Labor Complaint Against Justice Department [PDF] (Wall Street Journal)

09.27.2019 - Immigration Judges’ Union Lodges Labor Complaints Against Trump Administration (NY Times)

09.27.2019 - Immigration Judge Case Backlog Up Despite Quotas, Union Says (Bloomberg Law)

09.24.2019 - Immigration Judge Slams ‘Remain in Mexico’ Tent Courts (Observer)


AUGUST
08.23.2019 - Shakeup of Immigration Court System Threatens Migrants’ Due Process (ThinkProgress)

08.23.2019 - DOJ Increases Power Of Agency Running Immigration Court System (NPR)

08.23.2019 - The Justice Department Sent Immigration Judges A White Nationalist Blog Post With Anti-Semitic Attacks (BuzzFeed)

08.12.2019 - Justice Department Moves To Decertify Union That Represents U.S. Immigration Judges (NPR)

08.12.2019 - Trump Administration Looks to Decertify Vocal Federal Employee Union (GovExec)

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