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."
The Justice Department's Bureau of Prisons (BOP) recently committed $830,160 to purchase Protective Stab Vests for use by employees in federal prison facilities. The contract was awarded on a sole-source, no-bid basis because the need was determined to be of an "urgent and compelling nature." Documents accompanying the posting say that "thousands of vests ... are now considered to be End- of-Life" and need replacing, and vests are needed for new employees as well.
During his confirmation hearing in early 2009, Eric Holder declared he would not politicize the Justice Department. Yet throughout more than five years in office, the attorney general has done just that—without objection from President Obama, who obviously paid no heed to Holder’s promise. Indeed, it is manifestly clear that Holder and Obama approach law the same way: Where necessary, it may be manipulated—or ignored—in pursuit of political ends.
The head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration was called in to speak with Attorney General Eric Holder and told to get in line with the Obama administration's policy on lessening sentencing for drug offenders, according to a report from the Huffington Post.
In a speech the other day to state attorneys general, the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, offered an ideal job description for himself and his state counterparts: “not merely to use our legal system to settle disputes and punish those who have done wrong, but to answer the kinds of fundamental questions—about fairness and equality—that have always determined who we are and who we aspire to be.” This is what “all justice professionals are called” to do, said Holder, leaving us to wonder what we the mere people are supposed to do.
Last month the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The vote broke along party lines, 10-to-8. Over the weekend Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania became the first Democrat to oppose Adegbile. “I will not vote to confirm the nominee,” he said. A cloture vote scheduled for Monday has (because of the snowstorm) been postponed to Wednesday. With Casey’s announcement, Adegbile can no longer be assured that Democratic senators will uniformly support him. Indeed, the question now is whether other Democrats will follow Casey’s lead. It would take six Democrats including Casey to vote against and defeat the nomination.
Another reporter is joining the Obama administration. Emily Pierce, the deputy editor of Roll Call, will be joining the office of public affairs at the Department of Justice, the federal agency headed by Attorney General Eric Holder.
Pierce was welcomed to her new position by Brian Fallon, who works in that DOJ office and who used to be Chuck Schumer's spokesman in the Senate.
"Can't wait to welcome @emilyprollcall to @TheJusticeDept Office of Public Affairs later this month. She is a true pro," Fallon said on Twitter.
In November, the Obama Justice Department dropped a lawsuit aimed at stopping a school voucher program in Louisiana. The Louisiana Scholarship Program is intended to give students in failing public schools a chance to attend better schools, including private ones. Justice tried to block the program on the basis that it may have violated a 1975 federal desegregation order.
Bobby Jindal is outraged over a Department of Justice lawsuit against a Louisiana school voucher program. The suit, which he (repeatedly) calls “cynical, immoral, and hypocritical” and the “worst misuse” of federal desegregation laws, aims to stop a program that allows poor students in failing schools to enter a lottery for a voucher to attend a better school.
Valerie Jarrett, a close adviser to President Obama, said that Eric Holder is "definitely" not stepping down and that he'll be attorney general "for quite a while."
"One of the things that you learn in this business is, don't listen to rumors. You can take it from me. Obviously, I know the president pretty well. And I know the attorney general very well. and he will be in his position for quite a while."