Cummings Asks Gowdy to Subpoena Documents Withheld by Justice Department on Politicization of Immigration Judge Hiring

May 16, 2018
Press Release

Cummings Asks Gowdy to Subpoena

Documents Withheld by Justice Department on

Politicization of Immigration Judge Hiring

Washington, D.C. (May 16, 2018)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, sent a letter requesting that Chairman Trey Gowdy issue a subpoena to compel the Department of Justice to produce documents it has been withholding from Congress regarding whistleblower allegations of politicized hiring practices for immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) positions.

“These allegations are extremely troubling not only because they may violate federal law, but also because they further aggravate the critical need for more immigration judges and BIA officials to address the massive backlogs in immigration hearings across the country,” Cummings wrote.  “These allegations are also disturbing because they recall politically-motivated discrimination that the Department engaged in a decade ago in the hiring of immigration judges and the firing of U.S. Attorneys.”

On April 17, 2018, Ranking Member Cummings and Reps. Lloyd Doggett, Joaquin Castro, and Donald S. Beyer Jr. sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions requesting documents relating to 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.

“More whistleblowers have come forward since we sent this letter, and these individuals have corroborated much of the original whistleblower allegations:  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,” Cummings wrote.  “In multiple cases, the Department appears to have withdrawn offers of employment with explanations that suggest a pretext for improper political motives.”

On May 8, 2018, Ranking Member Cummings, along with Senators Richard Durbin, the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Immigration, Dianne Feinstein, the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Rep. Jerrold Nadler, the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Judiciary, and Reps. Zoe Lofgren, Doggett, Castro, and Beyer sent a letter requesting that the Department of Justice Inspector General investigate these allegations.

In 2008, an investigation conducted by the 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.”

“If you choose not to issue this subpoena yourself, then I ask that you place this matter on the agenda for our next regularly scheduled business meeting so all Committee Members will have the opportunity to vote on a motion to issue this subpoena,” Cummings wrote.  

Click here to read today’s letter.




115th Congress