The Trump administration has filed a petition asking whether the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) can have its certification revoked, a move that comes as some of its members actively speak out against President Trump and the White House’s immigration policy proposals.
A Department of Justice (DOJ) spokesperson told The New York Times on Friday that the department filed a petition to the Federal Labor Relations Authority asking whether the NAIJ could have its certification revoked since its members are “management officials” and unable to collectively organize.
Members of the union have denounced the move as misguided and as an attempt to dismantle the group.
“This is a misguided effort to minimize our impact,” Judge Amiena Khan, vice president of the judges’ union, told the Times. “We serve as a check and balance on management prerogatives and that’s why they are doing this to us.”
Judge Ashley Tabaddor, the union’s president, told The Washington Post that she thinks the petition is an attempt to “disband and destroy the union.”
The Hill reports:
Immigration judges are unique in that, unlike federal judges, they are appointed by the attorney general and considered employees of the DOJ, the Times noted. Representatives of the immigration judges’ union are permitted to publicly speak about DOJ policies that are deemed political. Sitting judges are prohibited from doing so.
Khan and Tabaddor have continued to publicly criticize the Trump administration’s policies throughout the president’s two-plus years in the White House. For example, the union in 2018 condemned an administration quota system that required judges to complete 700 cases annually. The judges’ union had reportedly said that the system hindered due process rights for immigrants in court. Tabbador had said at the time that the pressure to take on more cases was like “psychological warfare.”
The union plans to issue an official response to the petition once it receives a notice from the Federal Labor Relations Authority.