Originally Published in Salon
Igor Derysh - May 11, 2021
“This is a list I would have expected out of Bill Barr or Jeff Sessions,” says former longtime immigration judge
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the economy in the East Room of the White House on May 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden addressed criticism from Republicans after a weaker than expected April jobs report. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
The Justice Department last week released a list of 17 new immigration judges, who decide whether to grant asylum claims or deport migrants. "The 17 new immigration judges referenced in the notice all received their conditional offers under the prior administration," a DOJ spokesperson told The Hill, despite President Biden's vow to undo his predecessor's damage to the country's immigration system.
Trump cut funding to the immigration courts during his four years in office and limited how much control immigration judges have over their own dockets, barring them from allowing migrants with pending cases to remain in the country indefinitely. His administration also launched an aggressive enforcement strategy at the border and reopened hundreds of thousands of low-priority cases that had been deferred under the Obama administration, resulting in a backlog of 1.3 million cases by the time Trump left office.
Nearly all the judges on the Justice Department list have backgrounds as prosecutors or as counselors at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), while nearly none have any experience defending migrants.
Immigration advocates who have long decried Trump's assault on immigration courts questioned the new hires.
Igor Derysh is a staff writer at Salon. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.