Immigration Judge Forced to Recuse Herself from Cases Involving Shared Heritage

An Iranian American immigration judge has sued the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) after it issued an official order forcing her to recuse herself from all immigration cases involving Iranian nationals. The order came after Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor was invited to the White House for a meeting with Iranian-American community leaders. Judge Tabaddor’s supervisors permitted her to attend the meeting, and when she returned she received the official recusal order.

Many, including Judge Tabaddor, have been outraged by the DOJ order, arguing it is discriminatory and violates the Judge’s First Amendment rights. By the same logic, other immigration judges with a particular heritage would be forced to recuse themselves from all cases involving nationals of the same heritage— Latin-American judges could not hear cases involving Latinos, African-American judges must recuse themselves from cases involving Africans, etc.

The DOJ has moved to have Judge Tabaddor’s claim dismissed on the grounds that the court lacks jurisdiction and the claim was untimely filed pursuant to civil service law. A court hearing has been set for March.

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