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Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo: Gregory Rec/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

The union representing immigration judges is pushing back against the Trump administration for undermining judicial independence after the Justice Department stripped a Philadelphia judge of his authority over 87 deportation cases, reports the Washington Post.

Why it matters: This is a classic reflection of the growing rift between the Trump administration and immigration judges, who, unlike those under the judicial branch, have little protections to their judicial independence.

What's happening: The National Association of Immigration Judges filed a labor grievance this week in response to Attorney General Jeff Sessions' overriding of a judge’s decision and removal of dozens of cases involving undocumented immigrants.

  • Judge Steven Morley was reportedly overseeing juvenile cases which he either continued, or placed on hold due to questions over whether attorneys at the Justice Department had duly notified defendants to appear in court.

The backstory: The case that sparked the dispute involves a Guatemalan national who arrived in the U.S. in 2014 as a 17-year-old unaccompanied minor, and didn't appear before Morley. The Post reports that Morley temporarily closed the case and ordered DOJ to ensure Reynaldo Castro-Tum, whose whereabouts are unknown, had received his notice.

What they're saying: The union is urging DOJ to reassign the cases to Morely, and pleaded for judicial independence.

  • "We’re very concerned the immigration judges are simply being turned into law enforcement officers," said Laura Lynch of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, per the Post.

The federal law enforcement agency reportedly said Morley might have violated federal law and an investigation remains ongoing.

Go deeper

Updated 44 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: U.S. ahead of pace on vaccines.
  2. Health: Lessons for trapping the next pandemic.
  3. Tech: "Fludemic" model accurately maps COVID hotspotsVirtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off.
  4. Politics: Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
  5. World: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between doses — In AstraZeneca spat, EU fights hard for a vaccine its hardly using.
Dave Lawler, author of World
47 mins ago - World

In AstraZeneca spat, EU fights hard for a vaccine it's hardly using

Macron, Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel (R) at a summit in October. Photo: Yves Herman/Pool/AFP via Getty

Italy on Thursday blocked the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca doses to Australia, becoming the first EU country to exercise an export ban due to a vaccine shortfall in the bloc.

Why it matters: The controversial step exposes multiple major challenges to distributing vaccines — even among the world’s richest countries.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Global freedom continues steady decline: report

The global erosion of democracy has continued for a 15th consecutive year, according to an annual report from Freedom House.

Zoom in: The report calls particular attention to India, which slipped from “free” to “partly free” due to the government's “scapegoating of Muslims” and “crackdown on critics.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, according to the report, “driving India itself toward authoritarianism.”

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