U.S. Hiring Immigration Judges With No Immigration Experience Required

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson has recently brought to light the fact that the Executive Office for Immigration Review has been hiring lawyers to act as judges, even lawyers with absolutely no immigration law experience.

The vacancy announcement stated nothing about needing immigration law experience, reading:

“Applicants must have a full seven (7) years of post-bar experience as a licensed attorney preparing for, participating in, and/or appealing formal hearings or trials… Qualifying litigation experience involves cases in which a complaint was filed with a court, or a charging document… was issued by a court, a grand jury, or appropriate military authority…”

In fact, the EOIR has recently sworn in 28 new immigration judges. However, 11 of them had absolutely no immigration law experience.

No experience, not even handling one immigration case.

To have an immigration judge that has never worked with the immigration laws can make for false judgments and unfair rulings. This will change the justice in our immigration courts.

Having due process and justice isn’t going to be possible when judges do not fully understand the law. Immigration law takes a very long time to fully understand, and it has been regarded as one of the most complex areas of law to learn.

Therefore, to have judges deciding on the fate of immigrants when they themselves do not understand the law they are supposedly abiding by, it can be chaotic and without justice.

For example, a deportable immigrant may be eligible for lawful permanent resident status if he has been in United States long enough and has entered before January 1st, 1972. This law can save many immigrants from deportation. But an inexperienced judge wouldn’t know that law existed, and may end up deporting an immigrant that otherwise could have become a lawful permanent resident.

EOIR has argued that they are hiring these judges with no experience to deal with the backlog crisis and get more cases out of the courts. However, even if these inexperienced judges did help clear cases out of the courts, they would be making unfair decisions and negatively impact the lives of many immigrants.