Attorney General Chastises Immigration Judges

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has called for a review of Immigration Court proceedings across the United States, voicing concern about "intemperate or even abusive" conduct.

In two memos sent Monday to immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals, Gonzales said he was concerned about reports that some immigration judges had failed to treat aliens with respect.

"While I remain convinced that most immigration judges ably and professionally discharge their difficult duties, I believe there are some whose conduct can aptly be described as intemperate or even abusive and whose work must improve," Gonzales wrote to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

The attorney general is instructing Acting Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and the associate attorney general to conduct a comprehensive review of the immigration court system.

Recently the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago derided Immigration Judge Craig Zerbe for issuing a decision that included a "lengthy and often inaccurate depiction" of testimony that had been given on behalf of a Tibetan Buddhist seeking asylum in the United States.

The appeals court also found that Zerbe had made a serious geographical error in one of his opinions.

There was also a recent case of a man who fled China after the forced sterilization of his wife and was called a "horrible father" who was concerned only with his wife's ability to reproduce.

As noted in a recent story in The New York Times, "a federal judge ordered Qun Wang returned to China. 'He's a horrible father as far as the court's concerned,' Judge Annie Garcy ruled, saying Wang was obsessed with having a son and did not pay enough attention to his daughter, who is disabled."

Gonzales wrote in his memorandum: "For the aliens who appear before them, our immigration judges are the face of American justice. Not all will be entitled to the relief they seek. But I will insist that each be treated with courtesy and respect."

There has been a rise in immigration hearings after 9/11. According to an October review by the National Law Journal, the 9th Circuit Court of Immigration Appeals -- which usually sees half of all immigration appeals in the nation -- saw an increase in immigration cases from roughly 900 in 2001 to 6,000 in 2004.

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