And, boy are they revolting, in more ways than one. The most important being that Immigration Judges like A. Ashley Tabaddor want to run immigration policy without supervision. This is not new, the Attorney General has long lost control of the immigration court bureaucracy, undoubtedly because deciding immigration cases was turned over to lawyers from immigration officers in the early 1970s. Long before lawyers like Tabaddor had dreams of making immigration policy, review of decisions by immigration officers was performed by other immigration officers.
And Tabaddor continues today, attacking President Trump and Attorney General Sessions openly for the temerity of Sleepy Jeff demanding she fill her workday with actual work.
The Trump administration’s plan to impose a quota system on U.S. immigration judges represents a “new and dark era,” the head of the judges’ union said on Friday.
The Justice Department notified immigration judges earlier this year that it would begin evaluating their job performance on the basis of how many cases they complete, considering 700 completions annually “satisfactory performance.” The policy is due to take effect Oct. 1.
“This is an unprecedented act which compromises the integrity of the court” and pressures judges to quickly complete cases, possibly pitting their job security against the interests of immigrants, said Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
“In 10 days our nation’s immigration courts and judges will enter a new and dark era,” she said.
[Head Of U.S. Immigration Judges’ Union Denounces Trump Quota Plan, by Yeganeh Torbati, Reuters, September 21, 2018]
Taboddor’s statements should be enough to fire her from her position. As a licensed attorney in public service, her public statements about cases being heard before her violate her obligation to objectivity. However, her statements, since she is a union official, are generally protected.
However, Jeff Sessions does have options in regard to recalcitrant immigration judges. First, there is no right for Federal employees to be represented by a union. Only certain employees can join and be represented by a union. Employees in management, those with national security responsibilities, exempt employees, and many law enforcement positions are prohibited from being represented by unions. For instance, when the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created, all employees employed as Special Agents, no matter the component, were designated as national security employees, and many lost their union representation. Similarly, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Special Agents have always been prohibited from joining unions. Such exempt employees generally have a professional organization that lobbies or provides legal representation on their behalf, but those are legal representatives, generally attorneys, and do not negotiate wages, working conditions, or disciplinary action, though they may represent an individual employee in a disciplinary procedure. Similarly, attorneys for the Department of Justice who engage in advisory or prosecutorial activity cannot be members of a union.
The solution for the Sleepy Jeff to this open insubordination by Tabaddor and others in the immigration judge union, is to declare the position to be a national security position, which it is. Immigration Judges deal with national security cases and therefore should be prohibited from joining a union. All Sleepy Jeff has to do is make such a finding on his own, just as the Secretary of DHS in 2003 declared all Special Agents in DHS to be national security employees. There is no appeal of this designation, well there can be a lawsuit, but the immigration judges will loose, just as legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Special Agents lost their union representation. They sued and lost.
The other option that Sleepy Jeff has is to return the so-called immigration judge position to what it was called before March 30, 1973, Special Inquiry Officer. Along with removal of their authority to wear robes and be addressed as “Your Honor.” this will take them down a peg or two, deflating their egos, and, more importantly, reminding them that they are mere employees of the Department of Justice and charged with implementing immigration policy, not making it.
Sleepy Jeff has options to enforce his will on Tabaddor and other rogue immigration judges, time for him to act.
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