The Trump Administration has filed papers with the Federal Labor Relations Authority to decertify the union that represents the nation’s Immigration Court Judges, which been highly critical of the President’s immigration policies.
In the Aug. 9 filing by the Department of Justice, which has jurisdiction over the immigration courts, the agency asserted that employees represented by the National Association of Immigration Judges were “management officials” and thus not entitled to collective bargaining.
A similar move was attempted under President Bill Clinton but was unsuccessful.
‘A Misguided Effort’
According to the NAIJ website, in 1979 the group was designated as the collective-bargaining representative for Immigration Judges.
“This is a misguided effort to minimize our impact,” Judge Amiena Khan, vice president of NAIJ, told the New York Times. “We serve as a check and balance on management prerogatives, and that’s why they are doing this to us.”
The judges’ union has spoken out against the administration’s push to impose a quota system on judges to reduce the system’s massive backlog of 900,000 pending cases and accelerate the deportation and removal process.
“As individual employees of the United States Department of Justice, DOJ Immigration Judges are prohibited from speaking out publicly or lobbying Congress of the Department,” according to NAIJ’s website. “Only as an Association, legally constituted as a labor organization, have we been able to speak independently and advocate for our members’ interest.”
Joshua Bardavid, a New York City immigration attorney, said the NAIJ plays a critical role in advocating not just for the judges but the entire immigration bar, as well as for taxpayers.
“It is incredibly important that people from within the system have a voice …and insure that the immigration courts remain the neutral arbiter of facts and law and not politicized,” he said in an interview.
Mr. Bardavid said there’s been a tremendous amount of turnover in the immigration-court system, which has contributed to additional delays.
“The immigration courts are not part of that Article III court system but are part of the Department of Justice, which is also responsible for prosecuting people for immigration-law violations, which sets up an inherent conflict of interest,” he said.
Many Tapped by Trump
The Associated Press reported that President Trump has played a major role in shaping the makeup of DOJ’s Immigration Courts, having appointed 43 percent of the roughly 450 sitting judges.
The AP analysis found that Mr. Trump’s picks included a significant number of former military lawyers and attorneys with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
During former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s tenure, the government added 100 new Immigration Judges and tightened the rules for immigrants to be granted asylum to stay in the U.S.
In 2000, the union affiliated with the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers, which represents 80,000 members in professional, technical, and administrative positions in locals that represent Social Security Judges, NASA Scientists, nuclear engineers, architects and accountants.
The aggressive move on the Immigration Judges is just one of several made by the Trump Administration to greatly reduce the presence of unions in the Federal workplace.
Sought to Speed Firings
The White House has ordered the transfers of agencies from the nation’s capital to the Midwest in hopes of prompting resignations. Mr. Trump has also issued executive orders to expedite the dismissal process for Federal civil servants, as well as restrict the amount of time union shop stewards can be paid to represent Federal workers.
The American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union are challenging the executive orders in court.
The Merit Systems Protection Board, which is charged with protecting Federal employees from political targeting, has been left without any members for the first time since it was established.
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