Immigration Judges appointed during the Bush years have been justly criticized by federal judges and TalkLeft for writing opinions that, to put it nicely, don't make much sense. Monica Goodling and Kyle Sampson chose IJ's for their loyalty to George Bush and Jesus, not for their understanding of immigration law or due process.
Federal appellate courts must be getting fed up with decisions from IJ's that ignore evidence, that fail to apply or even acknowledge the controlling legal standard, that are absent of legal reasoning. Reversals of immigation decisions are common, particularly when IJ's reject requests for political asylum.
According to an analysis by The New York Times, IJ's who were vetted by the Justice Department during the Goodling/Sampson years disproportionately reject asylum applications. [more ...]
The analysis suggests that the effects of a patronage-style selection process for immigration judges — used for three years before it was abandoned as illegal — are still being felt by scores of immigrants whose fates are determined by the judges installed in that period.
Asylum is granted to refugees who legitimately fear persecution on account of "race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion" if returned to their home countries. You'd think that Monica Goodling's choices would be sensitive to claims of religious persecution, but they tend to have a "that's the way it goes" attitude when told that applicants will be killed or beaten or raped or jailed because of their religious or ethnic identities or political beliefs.
Some judges are worse than others.
In Houston, for example, Judge Chris Brisack denied asylum in 90.7 percent of his cases, while other judges in that city averaged a 79.1 percent denial rate. Judge Brisack, a former Republican county chairman who also works in the oil business, did not return a call.
Three of the Goodling/Sampson-vetted judges have granted asylum requests at a significantly higher rate than their peers. It's reassuring to learn that Monica Goodling was not infallible.