A hallmark of President Joe Biden’s tenure thus far has been his concerted effort to pretty much do the opposite of what his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, did in terms of enforcement of border security and immigration laws.
It has now been alleged that Biden’s Justice Department has purged several Trump-appointed immigration judges, and a pair of top Republican lawmakers have now launched an investigation into those allegations, the Washington Examiner reported.
Those two legislators are Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the ranking Republican members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, respectively, and they just sent a joint letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland that demanded answers about a claimed political purge of immigration judges.
Allegations of a political purge of immigration judges
With respect to the allegation that Trump-appointed immigration judges were being singled out for termination, Jordan and Grassley wrote in the letter to Garland, “If true, your termination of these immigration judges because of their political ideology suggests that the Department of Justice (DOJ) acted in violation of the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA), which specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of political affiliation.”
The letter referenced a recent press report outlining the allegations and noted that while the claimed purge was “reprehensible” and “potentially illegal” it was also “no surprise” given the “open borders, pro-illegal immigration policies” that the Biden administration has put in place.
That referenced report came from The Washington Times in late June and asserted that at least six Trump-appointed immigration judges had been terminated at the conclusion of the standard two-year probationary period for new judges by the Executive Office for Immigration Review within the DOJ — which, the article noted, had also dismissed or forced out at least four senior officials.
One anonymous DOJ official told the Times, “This turnover is unprecedented in the history of EOIR, and it all appears to be politically motivated in an effort to install Biden allies and pro-Democrat advocacy group supporters in both leadership and adjudicatory positions.”
Indeed, one of the ousted judges, Matthew O’Brien, described what had happened as “an attempt to weaponize the courts along ideological lines,” and told the Times, “It’s court-packing on steroids. It’s court-packing by deletion and then addition, because they’re getting rid of judges and they’re replacing them with people who meet their ideological framework.”
The letter from Jordan and Grassley also referenced a Fox News article on the allegations, in which O’Brien claimed to have been specifically targeted with harassment and complaints filed by pro-immigration activists and lawyers as part of a coordinated attempt to push him off the bench due to his “law and order” stance with respect to immigration cases.
The letter to AG Garland further included a statement from the National Association of Immigration Judges, which said of the allegations: “We are concerned about the complete lack of transparency and lack of notice provided to these judges. The Agency should but has failed to provide meaningful feedback to probationary judges throughout their probationary period so that they have an opportunity to address any Agency concerns. To the contrary, it is our understanding that the judges were given satisfactory performance evaluations.”
Demands made for termination figures, letters, and relevant DOJ “documents and communications”
In conclusion, Jordan and Grassley made a series of requests to Garland for all relevant information about the number of immigration judges who were terminated or resigned at the end of their probationary period dating back to the start of the Obama administration, as well as copies of any termination letters sent to those judges during the relevant time frame.
Further, they asked for “all documents and communications” since Jan. 20, 2021, related to the termination of immigration judges that were sent or received by certain top DOJ officials, between the DOJ and “immigration-related non-governmental groups,” or between the DOJ and immigration-related attorneys, professors, authors, or bloggers, and set a date of Aug. 3 for the attorney general to comply with those requests.