Trump Administration Goes After Immigration Judges Union

Since originally forming their union in 1979, the government has consistently recognized the right of Immigration Judges working in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) to join together in union as the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ). Even when the DOJ tried to bust the Immigration Judges’ union rights in 2000 under similar pretenses as today, Immigration Judges maintained their right to join together and negotiate with the Department of Justice.

Today, the Immigration Judges face another attack on their union rights. The Trump administration is actively trying to bust the Immigration Judges’ union by claiming the judges are “management officials” who lack collective bargaining rights – despite the judges lacking any managerial discretion or control. What the Trump administration is really trying to do is squash the ability of Immigration Judges to join together and have a public voice that  brings transparency and calls for accountability for the administrations’ actions against the court and the judges, and by extension the parties that appear before them.

The Trump administration’s excuse for trying to bust the Immigration Judges’ union doesn’t hold water. Immigration Judges aren’t management officials, aren’t part of the management structure, and their central duties of deciding cases before them based on the facts of the case and the applicable law have essentially remained unchanged since their union’s initial certification in 1979. 

This new union busting effort is part and parcel with the Trump administration’s existing attacks on federal employees and their unions, including the May 2018 Executive Orders that limit the ability of federal unions to raise questions about abuses and inefficiencies, and hinder unions’ ability to fully represent federal employees caught in the government’s bureaucracy.

Immigration Judges are non-managerial employees who have the same rights as employees in other parts of the economy to join together in union. An attack on the workplace rights of Immigration Judges is an attack on all of us.