[JURIST] At least one-third of the 37 immigration judges appointed by the Justice Department since 2004 are highly-connected Republicans or Bush administration insiders and half of those appointed lacked prior experience in immigration law, the Washington Post reported Monday. Immigration judges, who sit alone on cases, annually deport approximately 250,000 people from the United States. The Washington Post's review of DOJ appointments indicate political ties have played an increasingly important role in the selection of immigration judges, but DOJ spokesperson Dean Boyd told the Washington Post that political considerations may not be used in the employment decisions of civil service employees. The allegations come amid an ongoing internal investigation [JURIST report] by the DOJ's Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility [official website] into whether department aides illegally made hiring decisions based on considerations of applicants' political activities and connections. Last month, former DOJ aide Monica Goodling [JURIST news archive] testified before the House Judiciary Committee that she considered applicants based upon their politics, a violation of federal law.
The immigration court system was criticized recently by a study [materials] published in the Stanford Law Review that found the courts were inconsistent in granting asylum to applicants [JURIST report]. The SLR study echoes another report [materials] conducted by Syracuse University, which found widespread complaints from lawyers, federal appeals court judges, and other immigration legal professionals concerning numerous instances of failures by immigration judges to provide a "fair, expeditious, and uniform application of the nation's immigration laws in all cases." The Washington Post has more.