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Democrats Ask Sessions About Whistleblower Allegations That DOJ Is Blocking Immigration Judges Based on Prohibited Political Considerations

Today, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), and Don Beyer (D-VA) sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions seeking information about allegations that the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the Department of Justice are engaging in illegal political discrimination when hiring immigration judges and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

“We are writing to express our grave concern regarding allegations we have received from whistleblowers indicating that the Department of Justice may be using ideological and political considerations to improperly—and illegally—block the hiring of immigration judges and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals,” the Members wrote.

The Members noted in their letter that basing hiring decisions on ideology or political affiliation violates federal law and Department policy.  

“These allegations are extremely troubling not only because they may violate federal law and repeat the mistakes of the past, but also because they further aggravate the critical need for more immigration judges and BIA officials to address the massive backlogs in immigration hearings across the country,” the Members wrote.

In 2008, an investigation conducted by the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility found that aides to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales “considered political or ideological affiliations” when evaluating immigration judge candidates and candidates for the BIA.  The report warned that “both Department policy and federal law prohibit discrimination in hiring for career positions on the basis of political affiliations.”

“Our offices recently received information alleging that the Department of Justice has targeted multiple candidates for immigration judge or BIA positions based on their perceived political or ideological views.  These candidates reportedly have had their offers suspended or withdrawn due to these improper considerations,” the Members wrote.  “We have confirmed that the Department has delayed multiple offers for these positions for unusually long amounts of time and, in one case, withdrew an offer with an explanation that raises suspicions about the actual motive for the withdrawal.”

The Members requested a list of candidates for immigration judge or BIA positions that have been pending for more than one year, individuals who have been given appointments as immigration judges or appointed to the BIA since January 20, 2017, and candidates who passed background checks for these positions but have not been given appointments or had their offers withdrawn.   

Click here to read the full letter.