Dozens of immigration judges quit this year in response to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, CNN reports.
At least 45 immigration judges have left, moved to new roles, or passed away over the last year. That is nearly twice the 24 judges who left in 2018 and 21 who left in 2017, according to CNN.
“The reasons why individual judges have moved on from their posts on the bench vary, but in interviews with judges who left in recent months, one theme ties them all together: frustration over a mounting number of policy changes that, they argue, chipped away at their authority,” the network reported.
"It was an honor. It was a privilege to be able to preside over so many different cases and be able to grant relief to people who needed relief," former Judge Lisa Dornell, who left earlier this year after 24 years, told CNN. "The toxic environment made it both harder and easier to leave.”
Departures come after policy changes:
The departures come as the Justice Department faces a backlog of more than 1 million immigration cases.
The Justice Department under Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr set new case quotas for judges, gave more power to the official who oversees the courts, reversed rulings, and curtailed judges’ ability to exercise discretion, CNN reported. The administration also moved to decertify the union that represents immigration judges.
"I felt then and I feel now that this administration is doing everything in its power to completely destroy the immigration court system, the board of immigration appeal and the immigration system in general," former Judge Ilyce Shugall, who left earlier this year, told CNN. "And I just couldn't be a part of that.”
DOJ took judges’ power away:
After the DOJ allowed the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review to “step in and issue a ruling if appeals are not completed within a certain time frame,” judges complained of “hostility and insulting working conditions,” CNN reported.
"It started to wear at me," former Judge Jennie Giambastiani told CNN. "The great number of cases coming in and the way it was expected we handle them."
"This is not what they signed up for," added Judge Ashley Tabaddor, the president of the immigration judges union.