Biden Admin Seeks More Immigration Judges to Rubber-Stamp Asylum Claims


November 14, 2023

IRLI Seeks to Protect American Workers

By Matt O’Brien

The Biden administration has submitted a supplemental budget request to Congress that would hire 1,600 new asylum officers and the largest-ever number of new immigration judges.

But this is not an effort to reduce the massive backlog of immigration cases crippling the Department of Homeland Security. It is nothing other than a plot to implement an amnesty by executive fiat through the recruitment of pro-illegal immigration radicals who will rubber-stamp any application submitted by the nearly 8 million people the Biden administration has unlawfully herded into the United States.

How do we know this is true? To begin with, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Refugee, Asylum and International Operations Division is famous for recruiting anti-borders advocates. One need only look at the repeated, proud declarations by asylum officers that they were rebelling against then-President Donald Trump’s immigration policies they perceived as illegal and immoral.

Despite the mainstream media’s assertions to the contrary, the claims of illegality and immorality made by the aforementioned asylum officers were unconvincing. The Supreme Court, in a pro forma unsigned per curiam order, left Mr. Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy in place. And asylum applicants continued to get a full and fair hearing from the U.S. government.

Of course, nobody terminated any of the outspoken asylum officers for having grossly misinterpreted the laws they were sworn to uphold.

Moreover, neither the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 nor any other U.S. law mandates that the federal government grant asylum to anyone. Asylum is an entirely discretionary form of relief. The U.S. is not obligated to grant it even to people who can affirmatively establish that they are subject to political persecution in their home country.

This is a point of law that has been regularly affirmed by the courts, most recently by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Patpanathan v. Attorney General. But the Biden administration doesn’t want to hire neutral asylum officers who are likely to review cases objectively and properly apply the black letter law of asylum. Rather, it wants anti-borders ideologues who will uncritically approve asylum applications regardless of what the law says.

Only with this type of compliant adjudication workforce can the White House convert asylum from a form of relief for the genuinely persecuted to a blanket “get into America free” card for anyone who dislikes the conditions prevalent in their country of origin — and who would prefer to reside in the United States.

The executive branch’s consistent refusal to provide information justifying terminations of immigration judges in response to congressional inquiries indicates that the Biden administration has something to hide.

The administration’s approach to hiring and retaining immigration judges has been similar to its approach to asylum officer recruiting. It has repeatedly asserted that it wants to expand the court and hire more immigration judges. And it claims that it wishes to do so in order to confront the backlog of 6 million cases crippling the beleaguered Immigration Court and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Starting in early 2021, however, rather than hiring new immigration judges and attempting to retain experienced ones, the nascent Biden White House promptly terminated about a dozen distinguished judges hired by Mr. Trump. Those included at least one former state court judge, former Justice Department lawyers, and a former senior manager from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with an extensive government career history dating back to the former Immigration and Naturalization Service. (Full disclosure: That last one was me.)

The underlying motive was clearly ideological — none of the dismissed judges was willing to sign on to the administration’s anti-borders agenda and sign off on bogus asylum applications.

It should be self-evident that an administration that is serious about tackling immigration and border security doesn’t begin its tenure by purging experienced immigration judges.

Moreover, an administration that is dedicated to the rule of law doesn’t punish judges who read the law and apply it to the facts. That kind of abuse of power is employed only by politicians who see anyone who is not in ideological lockstep with them as a political enemy.

The executive branch’s consistent refusal to provide information justifying terminations of immigration judges in response to congressional inquiries indicates that the Biden administration has something to hide.

So, don’t think that the current administration has suddenly awakened from an immigration policy stupor only to realize that it needs to secure the border and get the system working again. This isn’t an administration attempting to recover from an unforced policy error.

Rather, these hiring initiatives are nothing more than smoke and mirrors intended to mask this White House’s desire to eliminate any and all restrictions on the admission of any immigrants to the United States.

And given the Biden administration’s obsession with artificial intelligence, don’t be surprised if their next request is for compliant robot adjudicators pre-equipped with a big rubber stamp reading “Immigration Application Approved.”

Matt O’Brien is the director investigations at the Immigration Reform Law Institute and the co-host of IRLI’s podcast “No Border, No Country.” Immediately prior to working for IRLI he served as an immigration judge. He has nearly 30 years of experience in immigration law and policy, having held numerous positions within the Department of Homeland Security.

Also published at The Washington Times, November 14, 2023.

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