LatinaLista — A disturbing report was released this week by the Justice Department. In the 140-page document entitled An Investigation of Allegations of Politicized Hiring by Monica Goodling and Other Staff in the Office of the Attorney General, it was uncovered that under Attorney General John Ashcroft and partially continuing under Alberto Gonzalez, the selection of Immigration Judges (IJ) was based on their political leanings.
According to a passage in the report:
An internal EOIR e-mail from an ACIJ to the CIJ, dated June 30, 2003, stated that Laura Baxter, a Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, had recently informed EOIR that “the Dept. is going to take a greater role in IJ hiring.” The e-mail noted further that Baxter “emphasized that she wanted us to know that this is coming from the AG [John Ashcroft].” Both EOIR Director Rooney and Deputy Director Ohlson told us that they were not aware of such an initiative at the time.
In October 2003, an exchange of e-mails between Baxter and Sampson, who had just left the White House Counsel’s Office to become a Counselor to Attorney General Ashcroft, showed that the White House
and the OAG had recently taken an interest in IJ hiring. For example, an October 8, 2003, e-mail from Sampson to Baxter stated that “the White House may recommend” two candidates for IJ positions, and that
Sampson wanted to send “folks in the White House” a document detailing a proposed new process for hiring IJs. Attached to the e-mail was a draft document, entitled “Appointment of Immigration Judges.”
The one line that says …”the White House and the OAG had recently taken an interest in IJ hiring…” taken with another revelation from the report that reads, “We also found that IJ candidates were provided by various Republican Members of Congress,” serve as proof of how extreme conservatives have steadily and successfully been able to influence the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, along with, the immigration judicial system, by ensuring that only lawyers in solidarity with their political views would be hired to preside over immigration cases.
Given the anti-immigrant political rhetoric supported and continued by the Republican Party, and apologized for by Senator McCain, the increase in worksite raids, the railroading of illiterate immigrants through the immigration courts, the profitable contracts with for-profit companies to build and maintain immigration detention centers and the recent announcement by Assistant Homeland Secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Julie Myers of a soon-to-be implemented policy of self-deportation, leads to the highly probable conclusion that this Administration knowingly approved and has manufactured a strategy to deny undocumented immigrants the “rule of law.”
The abuse of power revealed in this report certainly warrants the extreme motion of calling for the impeachment of this Administration.
On May 17, 2005, Williams received an e-mail from the White House Office of Political Affairs addressed to White House Liaisons in agencies throughout the executive branch. The e-mail urged the White House Liaisons to “get creative” and find positions for more than 100 “priority candidates” who “have loyally served the President.”
The White House also sought from each White House Liaison a “pledge of the number of the 108 priority candidates you can place at your agency.” In a follow-up e-mail, the White House reiterated that “we simply want to place as many of our Bush loyalists as possible.” The context of the e- mails made plain that the positions sought were political, non-career slots. On May 19, 2005, Williams responded: “We pledge 7 slots within 40 days and 40 nights. Let the games begin!”
Part of Williams’s efforts to fulfill her pledge involved finding IJ positions for these “priority candidates.” An e-mail chain involving Williams and the White House dated May 26, 2005, show various attempts to find candidates for IJ positions who have been “helpful to the President.” For example, the White House reached out to a Republican Congressman, and on June 7, 2005, the Congressman’s staff sent an e-
mail to the White House recommending a candidate, described as a “great Republican,” for an IJ position in New York. On June 15, 2005, the White House forwarded that e-mail to Williams, adding that the
candidate was a “long time donor to the local GOP,” and that local Republican Party officials would vouch for him. Williams forwarded the candidate’s name to EOIR.
It is no wonder that the White House has balked and invoked “Executive Privilege” to prevent the release of their emails. These IJ positions which should have been apolitical were politicized by an Administration corrupt with the notion that they should control a democratic nation.
In an e-mail on October 8, 2003, Sampson outlined a new process for hiring IJs that listed the White House as the sole source for generating candidates. We found that Sampson’s process, which treated the appointments like political appointments, was implemented in the spring of 2004. Sampson acknowledged that “in the sense that names were solicited from the . . . White House offices that were involved in political hiring, [we] were only considering essentially Republican lawyers for appointment.” Scott Jennings, who worked at the White House Office of Political Affairs, confirmed that IJ appointments were “treated like other political appointments,” that the White House’s sources for candidates were all Republican, and that candidates were screened for their “political qualifications.”
The report goes on to say that these lapses in judgement have been corrected and that measures have been put in place to prevent any future Administrations from repeating this abuse, but what about the current Administration?
The report cites by name several individuals who were responsible for implementing this practice but common sense tells us that the directive came from much higher in the White House and that these people, like everyone who has served or is currently serving this Administration, are only the puppets for the main puppeteer.
Also, because these abuses were so widespread among the Republican Party, it leads to valid questions as to whether or not the nation can trust a Party that has exhibited such rampant abuse of privilege and position for the last eight years?
Lastly, because of the contrived method in selecting and hiring Immigration Judges, the impact of these judges’ actions in their courts should be reviewed. Since they were hired based on political affiliation, there is reasonable doubt that they also ruled based on these same political affiliations.
If “Rule of Law” is to be used as a measure of compliance against the undocumented immigrants, it’s only right that the same barometer be used for those who sit in judgement of them.