Monica Goodling says she was given the green light to hire immigration judges based on their political qualifications. So how'd that happen? And who's been getting the gig?
As a story in The Legal Times last year explained, immigration judges are different from other federal judges in that they're civil service employees -- meaning that there's a formal application process with the Justice Department's Executive Office of Immigration Review.
But, Jason McLure reported, "according to an immigration-judge hiring policy released by the Justice Department, the attorney general also has the option to pre-empt the formal vetting process and directly hire a judge of his choosing."
It was apparently this option that allowed Goodling, and others at the department before her, to do their thing.
So who's been getting the gig? The Times last year profiled one of those judges, Garry Malphrus.
A former Republican aide on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Malphrus also worked on the White House's Domestic Policy Council before becoming a judge. But he really showed his stripes in 2000, when Malphrus joined other Republicans in making a ruckus (chanting, pounding on windows and doors) outside the Miami-Dade Elections Department -- the so-called "Brooks Brothers Riot" -- during the Bush-Gore recount.
Malphrus, of course, had no immigration experience when he got the job, McLure reports. He had that in common with a number of his peers, who had similar backgrounds:
Among the 19 immigration judges hired since 2004: Francis Cramer, the former campaign treasurer for New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg; James Nugent, the former vice chairman of the Louisiana Republican Party; and Chris Brisack, a former Republican Party county chairman from Texas who had served on the state library commission under then-Gov. George W. Bush.
But why bother becoming an immigration judge? Well, the salary isn't bad ($113,904 in 2006) and "unlike his former colleagues at the White House, as a career civil service employee, Malphrus wonât be out of work should Republicans lose the White House in 2008." And as a friend of Malphrus tells McLure, "I think he's just working his way up the totem pole."
Now, here's the thing. Malphrus and all the others cited in McLure's piece were appointed before Goodling became White House liaison in April, 2005.
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