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Top Dems Request IG Investigation of Illegal Hiring Allegations at Justice Department

Washington - Today, Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Immigration, and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,  Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Judiciary, and Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), and Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-Va.) sent a letter requesting that the Department of Justice Inspector General investigate whistleblower allegations of politicized hiring practices for immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) positions.

“Based on these whistleblower accounts, the Department may be improperly withholding or rescinding offers for these positions based on the perception that candidates hold political or ideological views that do not align with those of the Trump Administration,” the lawmakers wrote.  “In multiple cases, the Department appears to have withdrawn offers of employment with explanations that suggest a pretext for improper political motives.”

On April 17, 2018, Reps. Cummings, Doggett, Castro, and Beyer sent a letter to Attorney General Sessions revealing information their offices received alleging that the Department of Justice targeted candidates for immigration judges and BIA positions based on their perceived political or ideological views.  The Department has not provided a substantive response to date.

Over the past several weeks, more whistleblowers have come forward with information that corroborates the allegations detailed in that letter,” the Members wrote.  “Several of our offices have received information about additional cases in which the Department has delayed or withdrawn offers for immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) positions.”

Last month, Senator Durbin asked James McHenry, the Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), about these allegations during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  In his testimony, Director McHenry denied ever discussing the political or ideological affiliation of a candidate for an immigration judge or BIA position with any other Administration official or being aware of any such discussions involving other Department officials.  However, Director McHenry failed to deny or even address allegations that the Department engaged in discrimination based on the perceived political or ideological affiliation of job applicants, given inferences drawn from an applicant’s resume or other application materials.

In 2008, an investigation conducted by the Department of Justice Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility found that aides to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales “considered political or ideological affiliations” when evaluating immigration judge candidates and candidates for the BIA.  The report warned that “both Department policy and federal law prohibit discrimination in hiring for career positions on the basis of political affiliations.”

“We request that you conduct an independent investigation into these allegations of illegal hiring practices even as we continue to press for answers from the Department on this matter,” the Members wrote.  “Given your office’s important investigation a decade ago into politicized hiring at the Department and the seriousness of these strikingly similar allegations, we request that you give this matter immediate attention.”

Click here to read the full text of the letter.