In early August, the Department of Justice (DOJ) petitioned the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) in an effort to strip immigration judges of their right to be represented by a union. In the petition, DOJ claims that the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) is no longer a valid union because the judges are managers who can’t form unions under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations statute. DOJ cited a series of “factual and legal developments” it says have added managerial weight to the judges’ authority and rendered moot the FLRA’s 2000 ruling rejecting the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s (EOIR) bid to break up the union.
The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), the recognized collective bargaining representative of immigration judges, has called DOJ’s claim absurd and said that DOJ’s actions are designed to silence judges and their union. Clearly, decertifying the NAIJ is an effort to suppress the voices of immigration judges, who have denounced DOJ efforts to strip their authority. Ironically, the Administration has made every effort to limit the judges’ managerial authority and independence, micromanaging dockets, limiting discretion in adjudication, and imposing strict performance quotas.