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Congressman Lloyd Doggett

Representing the 35th District of Texas

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Reps. Doggett & Cummings: DOJ Response to Whistleblower Immigration Judge Inquiry Fails to Address Allegations and Renews Concerns of Politicization

June 7, 2018

 

UNITED STATES CONGRESS

For Immediate Release

June 7, 2018

Contacts:

Kate Stotesbery (Doggett) 202-225-4865

Alexa Papadopoulos (Cummings) 202-225-4741

Reps. Doggett & Cummings: DOJ Response to Whistleblower Immigration Judge Inquiry Fails to Address Allegations and Renews Concerns of Politicization

Washington, D.C.— Today, U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) issued the below joint statement after the Department of Justice (DOJ) responded to a letter they sent on April 17, 2018, along with Reps. Don Beyer (D-VA) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX), alleging that the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the Department of Justice engaged in illegal political discrimination when hiring immigration judges and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA):

“The Department of Justice’s response to our inquiry provides further evidence—in additional examples of delayed appointments—that the Trump Administration may have delayed multiple immigration judge appointments for political reasons. Only after we made this issue public and requested an Inspector General review did the Department finally end some of these delays and appoint six of those judges. 

Unfortunately, the Department refused to provide many of the documents we requested and failed to address several detailed allegations that the Trump Administration may have violated the same law previously violated by the Bush Administration—by targeting candidates based on their perceived political or ideological views. 

The Department needs to produce the documents we requested, including those relating to candidates who did not receive offers, as well as internal communications relating to alleged attempts to use a pretext to cover up political bias.

At a time when immigration courts face massive backlogs and critical shortages of judges, the Trump Administration has been slow to fill positions, and there are cases in which judges appear to have met every qualification except the Administration’s anti-immigration litmus test.  Following our letters, at least six more judges will be appointed.

Hopefully, as we requested last month with our colleagues on the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the Inspector General will fully investigate these troubling revelations to ensure that immigration judges are selected without regard to politics.”

Yesterday, DOJ responded to the Members’ inquiry in a letter and provided documents that largely consisted of publicly available records. The Department denied the allegations, but only provided some requested information about delays in hiring of certain candidates. The Department failed to provide much of the information the Members requested, including communications about these delays necessary to evaluating the truth of these allegations.

On May 8, 2018, these Members of Congress, along with Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) – the Ranking Members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees and Immigration Subcommittees – requested that the DOJ Inspector General investigate the matter after more whistleblowers came forward.

As noted in the Members’ previous letter, 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.”

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