(ESPAÑOL) For attorney general, President-Elect Donald Trump plans to nominate Jeff Sessions, a Republican Senator from Alabama who has made a name for himself as one of the most anti-immigrant voices in Washington.
The National Review, a conservative news magazine, credited Sessions with single-handedly destroying immigration reform attempts in 2004 and 2014. He is strongly opposed to illegal immigration and is also in favor of limiting legal immigration because he believes it harms domestic workers.
Sessions, or whoever the head of the Department of Justice is, can hire judges who will decide deportation, asylum and all immigration cases over the next four years.
During 2016’s hiring spree, immigration judges were hired at courts throughout the country. However, since January 2015, the court in Imperial County has not had a sitting judge. It is the only immigration court in the country to have a vacant bench.
The case backlog in Imperial County is so large that hearings are being scheduled for 2019 and 2020.
Sessions could push current immigration judges, who do not share his politics, into early retirement by transferring them to undesirable locations like the Imperial courthouse.
“Short of firing, life can be made difficult or unpleasant for employees,” Garcia Hernandez said. “Superiors can increase workloads or transfer them to unattractive locations. These are highly qualified professionals with deep ties to a particular community so the prospect of being transferred may be enough for them to say, ‘You know what, I might just do something else.’”
If confirmed by Congress, Sessions will play a key role in realizing Trump’s campaign promises of deporting millions of immigrants and securing the U.S. borders.
As attorney general, he would not only be in charge of who he hires but also how immigration judges are trained. One way he could influence what kind of judges are hired is by prioritizing those with previous experience as prosecutors for the Department of Homeland Security who work deportation cases, Garcia Hernandez said.
“Immigration judges are employees of the justice department,” Garcia Hernandez said. “Just like any other employee of the Justice Department, they answer to the AG.”