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Immigration Law

Justice For Sale? DOJ Offered Buyouts to Pre-Trump BIA Members

Tanvi Misra, Roll Call, May 27, 2020

"The Justice Department offered buyouts to pre-Trump administration career members on its influential immigration appeals board as part of an ongoing effort to restructure the immigration court system with new hires who may be likely to render decisions restricting asylum.

An internal memo viewed by CQ Roll Call shows that James McHenry, the director of the Executive Office of Immigration Review, offered financial incentives to longtime members of the Board of Immigration Appeals to encourage them to retire or resign. The buyouts and “voluntary separation incentive payments” were offered to “individuals whose positions will help us strategically restructure EOIR in order to accommodate skills, technology, and labor markets,” according to the April 17 memo.

EOIR is the Justice Department agency that oversees the Board of Immigration Appeals, a 23-member body that reviews appealed decisions by immigration judges and sets precedent. 

According to two knowledgeable sources at EOIR who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation, the memo was sent to the nine board members appointed under previous Republican and Democratic administrations, before Trump took office. No one accepted the buyout offers, according to both sources."

[For an "insider's" view, see former BIA Chairman Paul W. Schmidt's trenchant comments here.]