EXCLUSIVE: The top Republicans on the House and Senate Judiciary committees are pushing the Department of Justice for answers about the ousting of Trump-era immigration judges by the Biden administration — firings they say could be in violation of the law.
“We write about your decision to terminate the employment of multiple immigration judges who were hired during the Trump administration,” Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, write in a letter, obtained by Fox News Digital, to Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“If true, your termination of these immigration judges because of their political ideology suggests that the [DOJ] acted in violation of the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA), which specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of political affiliation,” they say.
Fox News Digital reported in June that an unspecified number of Trump-era immigration judges, who were appointed in the latter days of the administration and whose two-year probationary periods expired, were removed by the Executive Office for Immigration Review. (EOIR)
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Judges who have been ousted have told Fox that they believe it is because they are out of step with the administration’s immigration views, or in some cases because of their past ties to conservative organizations.
They have also blamed an antiquated system that allowed aggrieved attorneys to file baseless complaints, while one judge said that some had been let go after being given just a few days to respond to multiple and often vague complaints made against them — and were let go in virtual conference calls lasting mere seconds.
There are 590 sitting immigration judges, and the vast majority of those on probationary periods are then moved to non-probationary positions. The DOJ has said decisions related to career civil service employees, who include immigration judges, are based solely on performance, and the administration they were hired by plays no role in decision-making.
A spokesperson for the DOJ’s Executive Office for Immigration Review told Fox News Digital that it does not comment on personnel matters.
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However, multiple Republicans have expressed concern about the removals, with a letter by 12 House Republicans last month accusing the administration of “nefarious” motives. The immigration judges’ union has also complained about a lack of transparency and have requested reviews of three of the removals “to ensure that they were taken in full compliance with the law and that the probationary evaluation processes comports with fundamental fairness and sound labor relations.”
Jordan and Grassley tied the removals, which they believe may be illegal, to the liberal immigration policies of the new administration.
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“While such a purge is reprehensible and potentially illegal, it is no surprise in light of the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to open border, pro-illegal immigration policies,” they write.
They note not only the dramatic increase in migrant encounters at the southern border, but also the increase in cases at U.S. immigration courts, which is at more than 1.8 million.
“The Biden-Harris administration requested funding for ‘100 new immigration judges’ in its fiscal year 2023 budge knowing that its far-left policies would continue to fuel mass illegal immigration, and thus continue to increase the immigration court backlog,” they say.
The lawmakers request a number of documents and stats from the agency, including the number of judges who have been terminated since 2006 and their respective terminations — as well as documents related to the decisions from top DOJ officials, including Garland, and any communications with immigration-related non-government groups.