No Wonder Miami's Immigration Judges Aren't Fair

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The reputation of immigration court received another blow Wednesday, when Department of Justice employee Monica Goodling testified before congress that she had "crossed the line" when it came to her hiring tactics. Goodling admitted that she intended to hire people who were conservatives in her position interviewing candidates for attorney general appointments - including immigration judges and members of the Board of Immigration Appeal. Goodling did not reveal what she specifically asked of immigration judges, but the idea that asylum seekers get a fair trial is compromised, at best.

As New Times documented last fall, the Miami Immigration Court is among the courts with the lowest grant rates for immigrants seeking asylum in the United States.

Judge Denise Slavin, who presides over the court at Krome Detention Center and is president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, admitted that she was concerned about Goodling's testimony and "the issues it presents with respect to judicial independence and the public's confidence in the court system."

Slavin explained that the hiring process for immigration judges has always been uneven, and advocated increased transparency and more uniform standards. "If they publish the procedures that they're using, what they use to evaluate applications, those would be good things to see." But while the future may present some reform in immigration court hiring practices, Slavin said, "The past is not really our bailiwick." -- Emily Witt


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