The federal government may be forced to reveal the names of immigration judges who have been accused of official misconduct, depending on the outcome of a hearing in front of a federal appeals court.
The D.C. Circuit court recently heard arguments related to a request filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association, a voluntary bar association of over 13,000 attorneys and law professors who practice and teach immigration law in the United States, including New Jersey and New York. The three judges who make up the circuit court panel will now have to determine whether to grant the request, which was filed in connection with the Freedom of Information Act and which would require the government to go public with the identities of immigration judges charged with misconduct.
Although the U.S. Justice Department complied with a request for files on the immigration judges, their names were redacted and replaced with indecipherable codes.
During the recent court hearing, a lawyer for the Justice Department argued against the request for the immigration judges’ names and said they are “low-level employees” whose names should not be revealed as a matter of policy. An attorney for the American Immigration Lawyers Association countered that federal immigration judges have a great deal of authority and need to be held accountable for their criminal actions and abuses of power. The attorney further argued that litigants in future immigration cases have a right to know whether the judge hearing their case has a history of misconduct.
While the panel has yet to issue a ruling, the comments of the judges during the hearing suggest that at least two of them may be leaning toward requiring the government to release the names of immigration judges charged with misconduct – at least in limited instances. For example, one judge said that the public may have an interest in learning the names of immigration judges who have faced “numerous complaints” in their official capacities.
Regardless of how this case is ultimately resolved, it figures to set an important precedent that could have ramifications for immigration judges and related immigration law issues going forward.
For more information on this developing situation, read the Politico article, “Court Hears Case on Misconduct of Immigration Judges.”
If you or a family member is dealing with immigration issues, including possible deportation, it is important for you to talk to a qualified immigration lawyer. Michael Noriega, Esq., is a knowledgeable immigration attorney at Bramnick, Rodriguez, Grabas, Arnold & Mangan, LLC. Mr. Noriega is prepared to help you legally remain in the United States. Contact him today to schedule a free consultation about your case.