What is the Hatch Act?

Immigration judges are federal employees, making them bound by the Hatch Act which is supposed to keep politics out of immigration courts but some are concerned this is not happening.

Residents in Florida and around the country have no doubt been aware of the many changes and controversies surrounding immigration into the United States over the past few years. As a nation founded and developed thanks in large part to immigrants, the U.S. now finds itself grappling with how to manage the influx of people who want to live here.

While there are legal roads to gaining access to the U.S., some people may try to enter the country via other means. This is one of the issues that immigration courts have been established to address. Along the way, there has been an identified need to ensure political agnosticism in these courts. However, there are concern that this is not actually happening today.

Hatch Act overview

In 1939, the U.S. passed the Hatch Act which bars any federal employee from political activity in any official capacity or while on duty. This law was designed to prevent political coercion of federal employees. When it comes to the courts, this law should have been a means of ensuring cases were heard and decided on based upon the laws, not based on political actions or beliefs.

Complaint alleges Hatch Act violation in immigration court

The Heritage Foundation reported on a case last summer in which the U.S. Office of Special Council filed a complaint against a federal immigration judge, alleging that the judge violated the Hatch Act.

At issue were comments made by the judge during a 2016 case in which a person was facing potential deportation as well as a re-entry ban. The comments not only indicated the judge's personal beliefs on the re-entry ban but seemed to provide support for a then-Presidential candidate's views on immigration. The judge also made derogatory comments about her views on another political party's approach to immigration.

Study finds wide variance in immigration case outcomes

According to The Hill, a recent TRAC Study was conducted over the course of six years. The findings highlight a dramatic range in the outcomes of cases in which people were seeking asylum in the U.S. Denials for asylum requests ranged anywhere from 3 percent to nearly 99 percent based on where the case was heard and which judge presided over the matter instead of on the law itself.

To many, these results point to a potentially fractured system in which politics may have undue influence on the rights of individuals.

Professional immigration help is important

Anyone who is not a U.S. citizen and who has questions about their status in the country should always contact an attorney in Florida for help. This is the best way to get the latest information about the changing immigration laws and make wise choices about how to proceed in a matter.