DOJ to pause hiring of immigration judges due to budget constraints: report

DOJ to pause hiring of immigration judges due to budget constraints: report
© iStock

The Trump administration is reportedly planning to freeze the hiring of immigration judges amid a massive backlog of cases due to budgetary constraints, according to a Justice Department email obtained by BuzzFeed News.

The outlet reported Wednesday evening that the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, James McHenry, told immigration court staff earlier in the day that the department is "considerably short of being able to fulfill all of our current operational needs" due to the timing of 2019's budget process.

ADVERTISEMENT

As a result, the DOJ will not be able to hire additional immigration judges beyond those who are scheduled to be sworn in next month, McHenry's email states, according to BuzzFeed.

“This challenging budget situation has led us to a position where difficult financial decisions need to be made,” McHenry wrote, adding that the 250 attorneys set to be hired to support April's class of immigration judges would also be partially affected.

McHenry cited increased costs related to transcriptions, operational needs and interpreters.

A Department of Justice spokesperson declined to comment on the report to The Hill.

Steven Stafford, a DOJ official, told BuzzFeed that the decision did not represent a full hiring freeze but rather a slowdown in the pace of hiring immigration judges.

The report comes a day before McHenry is set to speak before the House Appropriations Committee. It also follows on the heels of a previous BuzzFeed investigation that found that the case backlog for immigration judges under the Trump administration to have surpassed 800,000 cases.

The investigation also found that numerous immigration judges are leaving their roles or anticipating their exits citing sweeping changes to the court under Trump administration policies.

“The job has become exceedingly more difficult as the court has veered even farther away from being administered as a court rather than a law enforcement bureaucracy,” an immigration judge union leader told BuzzFeed earlier in February.