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August 07, 2018

Chancellor Criticizes DOJ for Interference in Immigration Case

In light of the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) decision to remove and replace Immigration Judge Morley from a Philadelphia case after he scheduled a hearing to allow counsel additional time to submit a brief, Philadelphia Bar Association Chancellor Mary F. Platt issued the following statement:

"It is appalling that the DOJ may be interfering with the independence of immigration judges. Immigration judges are appointed by, and report to, the Attorney General, and are not a part of the judicial branch of our federal government under Article 3 of the Constitution. However, the regulations governing them state: 'In deciding the individual cases before them, and subject to the applicable governing standards, immigration judges shall exercise their independent judgment and discretion and may take any action consistent with their authorities under the [Immigration and Nationality] Act and regulations that is appropriate and necessary for the disposition of such cases.'

“It was shocking to learn that the DOJ Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) removed Judge Morley from a case after he granted a continuance of a hearing to allow counsel time to submit a brief regarding respondent’s failure to receive adequate notice of the hearing, and substituted a supervising judge who immediately deported the respondent at the hearing. Immigration judges should make decisions based on the facts and the law and not be subject to political pressure from the DOJ. As noted in a July 30, 2018 letter of protest signed by 15 retired immigration judges and former Board of Immigration Appeals members, ‘important due process safeguards are required in deportation proceedings, and errors should be corrected through the appeals process.’ No immigration judge should feel pressured by DOJ to make a decision in a particular case, and the DOJ should not take action against an immigration judge when it disagrees with a judge’s decision. In doing so, the DOJ interferes with judicial independence and undermines the rule of law."

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