This past August 8th, the National Association of Immigration Judges filed a grievance/complaint with the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) based on the actions of US Attorney General Sessions, who ordered an assistant chief judge from Falls Church, Virginia, to travel to Philadelphia for the sole purpose of entering an order of removal against a person who had not appeared for a hearing. The immigration judge (IJ) who had handled the case had closed the removal case because the Office of Chief Counsel (“OCC”) in Philadelphia had not been able to prove that the person had actually received the paperwork concerning his case. The assistant chief judge just entered the decision in that case and went back to Falls Church. The complaint stated that this action by Sessions was a gross violation of the IJ’s right to control his own docket and handle cases with justice in mind. The EOIR has 60 days from August 8th to respond to the complaint.
This past October 1st, a group of 20 retired IJs and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued a statement about their concerns with the current administration and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s demand that the judges and members of the BIA submit to quotas as a basis for evaluating the performance of judges presiding over removal proceedings held before the EOIR. The statement from the IJs and retired members of the BIA holds back nothing in the warning to everyone that, if Sessions has his way, there will no longer be any justice at all involving immigration cases:
“Experience has demonstrated that it is futile to protest to the present attorney general and his appointed EOIR director, who have repeatedly demonstrated a callous disregard for due process, fundamental fairness, or judicial independence in the immigration courts. Jeff Sessions has repeatedly demonstrated his personal bias against both immigrants and judges. With the help of his EOIR director, James McHenry, Sessions has taken a series of steps designed to strip the judges that he controls of all of the independence and powers that distinguish them as judges, and thus turn them into assembly-line workers. And because of Sessions’s disdain for immigrants, in his mind, those assembly lines should be issuing deportation orders, at faster speeds and in larger numbers.”
Sessions has made it clear to those IJs and members of the BIA who have retired from their service with EOIR that he does not believe in justice for those persons who appear before the Immigration Court to ask for a benefit. Sessions is interested only in throwing people out of the US. The IJs currently hearing cases involving asylum applications have seen the definition of what is the basis for a valid claim reduced to a vanishing point in cases involving domestic violence and claims of violence by gang members. Sessions is not concerned with the reports by the US Department of State and nongovernment organizations (NGO) that many countries are so corrupted by criminal gangs that the leaders of such gangs have actual control of local government officials. Indeed, some local officials are also gang members. The result is that persons with valid claims that they will be harmed or even killed by gang members, and that there is no ability to report abuse to the government officials, face death when returned to the country of which they are citizens. Asylum is an international law which was incorporated into the laws of the US in 1952. However, this administration is doing its best to strip it out of US courtrooms. The proof is in the fact that the US, in September 2018, withdrew from the Human Rights Commission, which monitors the global impact of human abuse in each country. Also, look at the recent policy of separating children from their parents at the border even in the face of pleas for asylum. Although that policy was stopped after public protests were mounted, the fact that this policy could even be a thought, much less be put into practice, is horrifying. As citizens of the US and members of a global society, we must raise our voices to vote against the efforts to close off the country’s borders and engage in possible human rights abuses.
- Linda A. Dominguez is the founder of L A Dominguez Law, which opened its doors in March 2006. The focus of the firm is on immigration law and LGBTQ issues. Linda has been practicing law since November 1989 and spent more than 16 years as a federal prosecutor. She is licensed in Maryland, Pennsylvania, as well as being admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Courts of Appeals for the 3rd, 4th, and 7th Circuits, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. Linda has one precedent decision issued by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, Cordova v. Holder, 759 F.3d 332 (4th Cir. 2014), on an asylum case from El Salvador.