3 U.S. senators’ bill to shield immigration judges from political pressures
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Three Democratic senators introduced a bill that would insulate immigration judges from improper political interference or manipulation.
Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) introduced the Immigration Court Improvement Act in response to the recent revelations that the Trump administration will impose “unfair, unnecessary, and politically-motivated” quotas on immigration judges.
“At a time when the Trump administration is constantly attacking the rule of law and threatening immigrant communities, immigration judges need new legal protections from the President’s political interference,” Senator Hirono said.
Senators Hirono, Gillibrand, and Harris. INQUIRER FILE
“Our immigration courts system only works if we uphold the non-partisan nature of their roles rather than allow them to be used as tools to carry out Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s political agenda,” Senator Harris said.
“Families all over our country rely on immigration courts to seek justice, but we have seen a disturbing pattern over the last year of attempts to manipulate immigration court judges. This legislation would help protect our non-partisan immigration judges from outside political interference,” Senator Gillibrand said.
“NAIJ applauds Senator Hirono for leading the effort in Congress to address the structural flaws with the Immigration Court,” said Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor, President of the National Association of Immigration Judges.
Asako Shimizu, chair of the Hawaii Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, also expressed support for the senators’ bill.
The Immigration Court Improvement Act would underscore the judicial nature of the job of immigration judges by requiring, among other things, that:
- The Attorney General supervise them in a way that does not interfere with their independent decision making authority.
- They maintain the appropriate judicial status with the bar of the highest court of their states.
- Actions of immigration judges be judged under the applicable Code of Judicial Conduct, not attorney conduct.
- They not be disciplined for good-faith judicial decisions.
- Their performance appraisals not be measured using any system of completion goals.
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