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Latest: BNP activist granted asylum on February 27, 2019.*         |        BNP activist granted asylum on February 19, 2019.*         |        Client Receives his Permanent Resident Status long after 24 years*         |        BNP Activist Granted Asylum on February 11, 2019.*         |        LDP member granted Asylum by Immigration Judge on February 5, 2019. *         |        2 Asylees (1 BNP & 1 Hindu Activist) Receive their Permanent Resident Cards on October 17, 2018         |        17 BNP members, 2 Hindu minorties & 2 LDP members granted Asylum in 8 weeks ending October 12, 2018         |        Christian-Convert from Islam Gets His Asylum Application Granted by Immigration Judge on 12/14/2017.         |        Hindu Human Rights Activist Granted Asylum by Immigration Judge on December 8, 2017.*         |        Asylum Officers Grant Asylum to Bangladeshi Hindu Women on Religious Ground on 11/30 & 12/7/2017         |        Immigration Judge Grants Asylum to LDP Activist on October 16, 2017. *         |        BNP Activist Gets His Asylum Application Granted by Immigration Judge on Oct. 2, 2017*         |        BNP Activist Gets His Asylum Application Granted by Immigration Judge on September 26, 2017. *         |        IJ Grants Asylum to Ganojagoran Manch Activist on August 3, 2017.*         |        Hindu Human Rights Activist Granted Asylum by Asylum Officer on July 5, 2017.*         |        BNP Activist Granted Asylum by Immigration Judge on May 26, 2017.*         |        IJ Grants Asylum to Bangladeshi Worked for US Army in Iraq on July 25, 2017.*         |        NGO Worker Granted Asylum on May 8, 2017 from Asylum Office. *         |        Single Mom Receives Her Green Card After Long 23 Years on April 5, 2017.         |        BNP Activist Granted Asylum on April 10, 2017.         |        Spouse of Permanent Resident Receives Green Card on Oct. 27, 2016.         |        BNP Activist Granted Asylum by Immigration Judge on October 24, 2016.         |        64-Year Old Hindu Woman gets her Asylum application granted in Asylum Office on October 4, 2016!         |        BNP Activist Granted Asylum by Immigration Judge on August 11, 2016*         |        BNP Activist Granted Asylum by Immigration Judge on April 25, 2016*         |        Immigration Judge Grants Asylum for Hindu Human Rights Activist on February 26, 2016.         |        Client received Green Card Entering as a Student.         |        Bangladeshi Journalist granted asylum by Asylum Officer on November 30, 2015.         |        Immigration Judge Rejects DHS claim that BNP is an Undesignated Terrorist Organization.*         |        Immigration Judge approves Domestic Violence victim’s asylum application on March 19, 2015.         |        Athiest gets his asylum application granted by Immigration Judge on March 26, 2015.*         |        BNP activist granted asylum by Immigration Judge in February, 2015.*         |        Asylum Officer grants asylum applications of Hindu minority activists on January 20 & March 3, 2015.         |        Leader of Ganojagoran Manch granted asylum on July 2, 2015.         |        Immigration Judge grants asylum for female Bangladeshi NGO worker on June 26, 2015         |        
Immigration Judges’ Union Fights for Judicial Independence

The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), the union that represents the nation’s immigration judges, is challenging the government’s decision to remove an immigration judge from a well-known case and replace him with a judge who immediately ordered the immigrant in the case deported. NAIJ’s grievance addresses the treatment of one immigration judge, but its resolution will have implications for judicial independence throughout the entire immigration court system.

The grievance was filed on behalf of Philadelphia-based immigration judge Steven A. Morley, who was presiding over the case of Mr. Reynaldo Castro-Tum. Castro-Tum’s case rose to national importance earlier this year when Attorney General Jeff Sessions chose to refer the case to himself to reconsider the Board of Immigration Appeals’ previous decision in the case.

In reconsidering the decision, Sessions effectively eliminated judges’ use of administrative closure, a docket management tool. Sessions sent Castro-Tum’s case back to Judge Morley, noting that the immigration court order Castro-Tum removed if he did not appear at his next hearing.

Castro-Tum did not appear at the next hearing. However, Judge Morley continued the case to resolve whether Castro-Tum received adequate notice of the hearing. Due process requires, at a minimum, that an individual be given notice of proceedings and an opportunity to be heard by a judge.

But before the next hearing could take place, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) replaced Judge Morley with an Assistant Chief Immigration Judge who ordered Castro-Tum removed when he did not appear at court again.

In their grievance, NAIJ asserts that the decision to remove Judge Morley from Castro-Tum’s case and reassign many other cases from his docket resulted in unacceptable interference with judicial independence.

The grievance specifically claims that EOIR’s actions violate immigration judges’ authority under the regulations to exercise “independent judgment and discretion.” “Although EOIR may reassign cases for some reasons, it cannot do so because a judge is exercising decision-making authority in a particular way.”  Speaking at a press conference on the grievance, NAIJ President Ashley Tabaddor emphasized this distinction and stated that such EOIR action was unprecedented.

However, reassigning Judge Morley’s cases is not the first shocking decision by EOIR that challenges judicial independence. Earlier this year, EOIR announced that, effective October 1, 2018, immigration judges would be subject to numerical goals, or performance metrics, including case completion goals. Former immigration judges, among others, have expressed concern over how such metrics could constrain judicial independence.

Although our immigration courts may be backlogged with cases, any efforts to reduce this backlog cannot be at the expense of judicial independence. Judges should not have to consider case completion goals when making decisions about how to proceed to ensure a fair hearing. Independent judicial decision-making is essential in ensuring a fundamentally fair hearing that comports with the country’s strong tradition of due process for all those within our borders.


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