No Comment — May 30, 2007, 9:00 am

Meltdown at DOJ: The Story of the Immigration Judge Scam

One of the mysteries surrounding the testimony last week of Monica Goodling has now been resolved, thanks to the reporting of the Legal Times. Emma Schwartz and Jason McLure take a look at some litigation launched by a disappointed career immigration lawyer who was passed over for an immigration judgeship, and uncover how the Civil Division came to look at the process of political appointments and reassess the posture erroneously adopted by Attorney General John Ashcroft at the end of his tenure, and then continued by Alberto Gonzales.

The authority used to bypass the competitive hiring process would be employed again and again during the last year of Attorney General John Ashcroft’s tenure and continue when Alberto Gonzales succeeded him in 2005. And according to the immigration court’s former administrator, it also allowed top political aides at Justice, including former Gonzales chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson and former White House liaison Monica Goodling, to fast-track candidates of their choosing — including a number of lawyers with no immigration law experience but strong ties to the Republican Party or President George W. Bush’s election campaigns.

During her day-long testimony before the House Judiciary Committee last week, Goodling, under a grant of immunity, admitted that she asked inappropriate questions of many applicants for career jobs at the department and evaluated candidates based on her perception of their political loyalties. “I believe I crossed the line, but I didn’t mean to,” she testified.

Though allegations that Goodling had politicized the hiring of federal criminal prosecutors were known by the time she testified, her admission that she had taken political considerations into account in the hiring of immigration judges — who are considered civil-service employees — was not. Nor was it well-known that a discrimination suit filed by Guadalupe Gonzalez led to internal debate within the Justice Department over the appointment process and to a hiring freeze of immigration judges that began in December — a freeze that wasn’t lifted until last month. Justice’s immigration judge selection process is currently being probed by the department’s inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility for potential violations of federal civil service laws.

Legal Times also looks at some of the candidates picked by Alberto Gonzales through this process. They have few obvious qualifications which would prepare them for the job, but they are very long on dedicated service to the Republican Party. A good example was Francis Cramer:

Cramer became something of a fixture in the state’s Republican politics and a close ally of the younger Gregg. In 1992, he served as Gregg’s campaign treasurer in his successful run for the Senate, and he later helped the senator beat back a probe of his campaign finances by the Federal Election Commission… But the hiring didn’t escape scrutiny. Last year, Cramer was singled out in a report by the Government Accountability Office. The report, on the subject of political appointees “burrowing in” to government civil service jobs, noted that the position of immigration judge required “a thorough knowledge of immigration and nationality laws, both past and present, and the regulations and rules of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.” The report noted that Cramer’s résumé listed no immigration law experience other than the six-month detail, and found that Cramer’s move “raises questions about the fairness” of the hiring process…

Since Cramer’s investiture as a judge in 2004, roughly three dozen immigration judges have been hired. They include: James Nugent, a former vice chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party; Garry Malphrus, a former White House aide and veteran of Bush’s 2000 campaign; Chris Brisack, a county Republican Party chairman in Texas during Bush’s tenure as governor; and Bruce Taylor, a former Justice Department lawyer who had been president and chief counsel of the right-leaning National Law Center for Children and Families and general counsel to Citizens for Decency Through Law, an anti-pornography group.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

September 2016

Tennis Lessons

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Tearing Up the Map

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Land of Sod

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Only an Apocalypse Can Save Us Now

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Watchmen

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Acceptable Losses

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
 
Andrew Cockburn on the Saudi slaughter in Yemen, Alan Jacobs on the disappearance of Christian intellectuals, a forum on a post-Obama foreign policy, a story by Alice McDermott, and more
Artwork by Ingo Günther
Article
Land of Sod·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Just a few short years ago, Yemen was judged to be among the poorest countries in the world, ranking 154th out of the 187 nations on the U.N.’s Human Development Index. One in every five Yemenis went hungry. Almost one in three was unemployed. Every year, 40,000 children died before their fifth birthday, and experts predicted the country would soon run out of water.

Photograph by Mike Slack
Article
The Watchmen·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Just a few short years ago, Yemen was judged to be among the poorest countries in the world, ranking 154th out of the 187 nations on the U.N.’s Human Development Index. One in every five Yemenis went hungry. Almost one in three was unemployed. Every year, 40,000 children died before their fifth birthday, and experts predicted the country would soon run out of water.

Illustration by John Ritter
Article
Acceptable Losses·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Just a few short years ago, Yemen was judged to be among the poorest countries in the world, ranking 154th out of the 187 nations on the U.N.’s Human Development Index. One in every five Yemenis went hungry. Almost one in three was unemployed. Every year, 40,000 children died before their fifth birthday, and experts predicted the country would soon run out of water.

Photograph by Alex Potter
Article
The Origins of Speech·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"To Chomsky...every child’s language organ could use the 'deep structure,' 'universal grammar,' and 'language acquisition device' he was born with to express what he had to say, no matter whether it came out of his mouth in English or Urdu or Nagamese."
Illustration (detail) by Darrel Rees. Source photograph © Miroslav Dakov/Alamy Live News

Chances that college students select as “most desirable‚” the same face chosen by the chickens:

49 in 50

Most of the United States’ 36,000 yearly bunk-bed injuries involve male victims.

In Italy, a legislator called for parents who feed their children vegan diets to be sentenced to up to six years in prison, and in Sweden, a woman attempted to vindicate her theft of six pairs of underwear by claiming she had severe diarrhea.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Mississippi Drift

By

Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'

Subscribe Today