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

In August 2019, DOJ initiated unionbusting of the NAIJ and implemented surprise regulation that politicizes and diminishes the adjudicatory role of the Immigration Court

Over the past month, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has acted to decertify the National Association of Immigration Judges/IFPTE Judicial Council 2 (NAIJ) as the Immigration Judgesí 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 Judgesí union by announcing a interim rule that took effect on announcement on August 26th, a rule which effectively abolishes the separation between DOJís enforcement role and the Immigration Courtís adjudicatory duties.

These 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 DOJís 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 Judgesí authority has diminished. While the DOJís 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 DOJís maneuvers to diminish judicial independence and eliminate the NAIJ, the DOJís Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) Ė which oversees the Immigration Court Ė 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 DOJís effort to decertify the union. In response, NAIJ President Judge Ashley Tabaddor 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 DOJís effort to remove the NAIJ as the Immigration Judges union is the latest in an ongoing attacks on federal employees and the civil service.

Recent NAIJ/IFPTE Judicial Council 2 Letters and Press Release
08.29.2019 - FWA Unions Urge Congressional Approprators 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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