When President Obama finally offers his executive action on illegal immigration, the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) is going to get a bit busier.
The EOIR is tasked to "adjudicate immigration cases by fairly, expeditiously, and uniformly interpreting and administering the Nation's immigration laws."
But an internal review conducted by EOIR found that numerous students given paid temporary jobs through the "Student Temporary Employment Program" or STEP, "had relatives at EOIR when they were hired."
When it was found that "four students who were relatives of the three most senior officials in the organization -- EOIR Director Osuna, Chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) David Neal, and Chief Immigration Judge Brian O'Leary" the DOJ's inspector general stepped in to provide a more detailed report, as an internal report might "create real or apparent conflicts of interest."
The Department of Justice inspector general's office found that, between 2007 and 2012, 32 of 200 – or 16 percent – of students hired had a relative working at EOIR. Multiple officials there told the inspector general that "hiring relatives for paid student positions was a standard practice or commonplace." So commonplace that, between 2005 and 2012, "at least 7 of the 19 current temporary and permanent board members of the BIA had children working in paid student positions."
Director Osuna, the report states, "more likely than not participated in the decision to place his niece in a position." Further, when his niece wanted to return the following year, he asked a direct subordinate, "can we get the paperwork moving?" The OIG concluded "this involvement violated several statutes and regulations, including the federal nepotism statute and the Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch."
David Neal, chair of the Board of Immigration Appeals, passed his daughter's resume to Director Osuna. She was given a paid internship in 2007 and re-hired the following year. But the OIG found "insuffucient evidence to conclude that Neal advocated for his daughter's appointment in violation of the federal nepotism statute..."
Neal also "approached Chief Immigration Judge O'Leary" and another immigration judge "to inquire about summer job opportunities" for his high-school aged son. The OIG found this "constituted impermissable advocacy under the federal nepotism statute" but couldn't conclude that he "violated the Standards of Ethical Conduct or the federal conflict of interest statute."
Chief immigration judge O'Leary informed a colleague his daughter, who had an interest in architecture, that she would be applying for a STEP position. Another colleague at EOIR informed O'Leary he had an interest in hiring his daughter, but O'Leary "discouraged her from doing so because it might have prevented his daughter from being hired" into the facilities management unit. The OIG found O'Leary "violated the Standards of Ethical Conduct, which prohibit an employee from using his public office for the private gain of relatives."
You can read the full report here.