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Biden's Justice Department Backs Away From Fight With Immigration Judges Union

A Border Patrol agent walks along a dirt road near the U.S.-Mexico border, in Roma, Texas, in May.
Gregory Bull
A Border Patrol agent walks along a dirt road near the U.S.-Mexico border, in Roma, Texas, in May.

The Department of Justice is shifting away from the Trump administration's effort to decertify the union that represents immigration judges, the latest twist in a two-year battle over the union's future.

The Federal Labor Relations Authority last year sided with the Trump administration, which tried to dissolve the union that represents nearly 500 immigration judges.

Now the Biden Justice Department is formally dropping its opposition to a request that the FLRA reconsider its decision to decertify the union.

The head of the National Association of Immigration Judges called that a "significant" development. Amiena Khan, the president of the NAIJ, said in a statement that she's "optimistic" that this shift signals a larger change in policy by the Biden administration, and that the Justice Department will once again recognize the union.

Immigration judges work for the Justice Department. They hear cases about whether immigrants have lawful grounds to stay in the country.

Under Trump, the DOJ contended that judges are management officials who should no longer have a union.

Union leaders, meanwhile, accused the Trump administration of trying to silence immigration judges. The union opposed some of the administration's policies, including the imposition of quotas for judges.

The union has called for immigration judges to be independent, like federal judges.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Joel Rose is a correspondent on NPR's National Desk. He covers immigration and breaking news.
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