Justice Dept. Slams its Own Office of Immigration Review for Widespread Nepotism

Sunday, November 09, 2014
Juan Osuna (photo: Reuters)

Getting a summer internship in the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) can be as easy as passing a DNA test.


A report by Justice’s Inspector General showed that between 2007 and 2012, about 16% of the interns hired in that office were related to employees who worked there. At least seven of the 19 temporary and permanent board members of the Board of Immigration Appeals had children working in paid student positions at the EOIR between 2005 and 2012, the report said.


Immigration Review Director Juan Osuna, Chief Immigration Judge Brian O’Leary and Board of Immigration Appeals Chairman David Neal all had relatives in internships and had violated anti-nepotism laws, the IG concluded.


“We believe these hires were emblematic of a pervasive problem in EOIR’s hiring under the [Student Temporary Employment Program]—namely that students who were related to or referred by EOIR employees enjoyed a considerable advantage in securing paid student positions within the organizations,” the report concluded.


This IG report came after a similar investigation into the hiring practices of the Justice Management Division. When that report was released, Osuna ordered a review of his department’s practices.


As a result of this year’s IG findings, OIR was ordered to institute many of the same practices introduced at the Management Division, including training for hiring employees and a certification that if a relative of an employee is hired, there was no favoritism involved.


“The conduct we saw in this report infected the entire organization from the highest levels down, and only through a concerted effort and continued vigilance will it be eradicated and hiring returned to the principles of fair competition that are rightly expected of a component of the Department,” the report concluded.

-Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

Investigators: Nepotism Was Rampant With U.S. Immigration Court’s Interns (by Josh Hicks, Washington Post)

Report Regarding Investigation of Improper Hiring Practices by Senior Officials in the Executive Office for Immigration Review (Office of the Inspector General, Department of Justice) (pdf)

Justice Department Keeping It All in the Family (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Nepotism Considered Normal at Energy Dept. (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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