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Immigration Judges Sue DOJ, Claim They’re Being Muzzled

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July 6, 2020

The union that represents the 460-plus U.S. immigration judges is suing the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), the DOJ agency that oversees the immigration courts. The lawsuit, which is being handled by The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, was filed in federal court in Virginia on July 1. Immigration judges have long been allowed to speak publicly about issues related to immigration and the immigration courts, as long as they made clear they were speaking for themselves and not the courts, according to the complaint. Presentations at schools, universities and bar associations “educated the public about the immigration courts and made the immigration system more transparent.” But since 2016, the EOIR has been tightening the screws. First it established a policy that required preapproval. Then, in January of this year, the policy was revised to prohibit any speech about immigration law or policy or EOIR programs or policies, and to require prior approval for speaking or writing about anything else. Immigration judges are represented by the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), an affiliate of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers. In August of last year, DOJ filed a petition to decertify the union, and a decision is pending.

 

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