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Our members speak about the benefits of membership.

Where there are numbers there is strength.

The National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ) began in 1971 with its stated purpose to be “A voluntary Association formed with the objectives of promoting the independence, dignity, and efficiency of the Immigration Court. In addition there was a desire to be heard on immigration legislation. Today those goals of independence, dignity and efficiency continue. Since 1979, the NAIJ by certification of the Federal Labor Relations Authority has been the exclusive representative of “all” immigration judges. Soon after my appointment to the immigration judge corps in late 1982, I joined the Association and then was privileged to serve as its president from 1985-1991. I continue to be a member and great supporter of this outstanding organization. Representing the interests of immigration judges, the Association has been responsible for many changes and improvements that affect the daily lives of our corps. Today’s leadership is the most dynamic and effective we have ever had! These are but a few of the many accomplishments and successes on behalf of the NAIJ:

  • Pay reform – the NAIJ was instrumental in securing pay reform (our own pay scale) by convincing many members of Congress of the important work that we do.
  • Legislative recognition of our title “immigration judge”
  • Negotiated and secured a strong labor contract with EOIR and OCIJ that protects the corps and all its members.
  • Successfully represents many members on matters such as transfers, disciplinary actions, and sanctions.
  • Established NAIJ liaison with circuit courts, the ABA and the AILA
  • Established NAIJ committees for labor, legislation, negotiation and judicial independence.

Your National Association of Immigration Judges continues its work on behalf of the judge corps daily. It deserves your support, it needs your support. Where there are numbers there is strength. Join us! Join the many United States Immigration Judges who are proud members of the NAIJ corps.

John F. Gossart, Jr.
Retired U.S. Immigration Judge
Past President, NAIJ
Baltimore, MD

To Belong or Not To Belong...

Why wait to join the National Association of Immigration Judge until that dreaded time when you have become the subject of attention by EOIR or DOJ for some infraction real or perceived and you need NAIJ’s help?

In case you did not know, while you dither, some of your colleagues, known to you or not, find themselves in just that position, needing the intercession of NAIJ with EOIR or DOJ. As a member of the Court, it behooves you to support your colleagues in need by supporting NAIJ, which is unique in its support to Us in jeopardy. Moreover, the officers of NAIJ also work ceaselessly, not only providing help to all judges, but, as importantly, work to better your positions as judges. Without NAIJ acting as your voice, you are bereft of any meaningful one.

As a past president of NAIJ and IJ for 25 years, I know, first hand, that only through collective action can you have any hope of enhancing the corps as to working conditions and salary. Indeed, it was only through collective action that NAIJ was able to achieve a pay raise as a tack-on to IIRIRA in 1996, a major achievement. Likewise, after many frustrating years of broken promises by EOIR for improvements for the judges, and many years of efforts, NAIJ was finally able to secure a written contract setting forth in absolute terms the conditions of your employment. Trust me, the contract and the Association are the only things standing as a bulwark against the overreach by EOIR and DOJ, an occurrence happening more often than not but often hidden from view.

The ongoing and herculean efforts of your officers on behalf of the corps, promises to bear much future fruit. Hopefully those efforts will finally, and in reality, elevate your status and that of a more substantive judge and not merely a fungible attorney for DOJ. Indeed, you all have earned the respect of the private bar, the courts and the public through your hard work and dedication and you deserve the respect of DOJ as well. For those appearing before you, you are the important first step of the judicial process of the United States.

Don’t wait, join now, support NAIJ and your colleagues. Your membership does count.

Bruce W. Solow
Retired U.S. Immigration Judge
Past President, NAIJ
Miami, Florida

NAIJ Offers Unparalleled Mentorship and Support

At the time I was appointed, I didn’t know how joining the NAIJ would impact my career. Starting my dream job, I just wanted to complete probation and become a capable judge. Could joining be perceived as “taking on” management – the same group that had just appointed me? Although I did sign up, it took time to understand what I had gained by doing so. Now as a Local Rep, I have a more nuanced understanding of how NAIJ, through constructive dialogue, makes EOIR stronger. Whether formulating positions on cutting edge issues, or debating best practices, through NAIJ I get to know how my colleagues scattered across the country think on important issues, and my window into variations in local court culture is much clearer. For me, at its core, NAIJ offers unparalleled mentorship and support.

Mimi E. Tsankov
U.S. Immigration Judge
Denver, Colorado

I Strongly Endorse, Defend and Support the Efforts of the NAIJ

As you know I retired on May 3, 2011, as an Immigration Judge (IJ) in the Las Vegas Immigration Court. I was appointed as an IJ as of late September 1994. I served in that capacity in the Los Angeles Immigration Court from the fall of 1994 until the spring of 1997 when I was transferred to the Miami Immigration Court. I was subsequently reassigned to the Las Vegas Immigration Court effective September 1998. I joined the National Association of Immigration Judges in approximately 1995. I became a Union Rep for NAIJ after my transfer to Las Vegas. I was the only IJ in that Court who joined and became active with NAIJ. I also donated extra funding to the NAIJ so it could hire a lobbyist to represent our interests before the Judiciary Committees in the House and Senate. That effort resulted in getting new stature and higher pay for all IJs as part of the passage of Public Law No. 104-208 which was signed into law on Septemember 30, 1996. The provisions which applied to the Immigration Court formally changed the original title for IJs from Special Inquiry Officers to Immigration Judges. It also elevated the salary of IJs from GS-15 attorney positions to the current rate of pay at the Senior Level and enhanced the statutory authorityof IJs. Alhough the U.S. Department of Justice continued to demean IJs by referring to them as nothing more than “Attorney Adjudicators” at least statutorily the official title was changed to Immigration Judge. The NAIJ through its lobbyist(s) on Capitol Hill and only the NAIJ made that possible along with testimonials from the National Officers of the NAIJ. Subsequently, we – the NAIJ – negotiated a collective bargaining agreement with our agency, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR). The NAIJ also negotiated with EOIR on rights for IJs in annual performance appraisals by the EOIR and fought efforts by the DOJ/EOIR to decertify our organization, which by then had joined a national union to which we belong along with Social Security Judges. The NAIJ also represented and continues to represent IJs subject to proposed disciplinary action by EOIR or OPR -the Darth Vader of the DOJ. While the NAIJ represents all IJs, membership is voluntary. I twice had to avail myself of NAIJ representation when OPR falsely accused me of engaging in unethical conduct as an IJ. In both instances I was vindicated, each time thanks to the hard work of NAIJ on my behalf. I also served as Shop Steward for the NAIJ for the Las Vegas and Salt Lake City Immigration Courts. Although I retired as an IJ as of May 3, 2011, I remain as a committed member of the NAIJ and continue to pay dues to the NAIJ and serve as a resource for the NAIJ. In addition to all the above, the NAIJ has been working to obtain the endorsement of the American Bar Association and the Administrative Conference of the United States to remove the Court from the DOJ and make the Court an independent agency or make the Court an Article I Court. Thanks to the NAIJ, IJs have a force on their side to defend, protect, lobby for, and represent the interests of all IJs both now and in the future. Therefore, I strongly endorse, defend and support the efforts of the NAIJ to represent, protect, defend, and enhance the stature of all Immigration Judges. Furthermore, I encourage all IJs, both present and future IJs to support and assist your only advocate: The NAIJ.

Harry L. Gastley
Retired U.S. Immigration Judge
Reno, Nevada

The Reasons I Have Maintained My Membership in the NAIJ...

The reasons I have maintained my membership in the NAIJ after retirement are that it affords me a way to remain current on issues affecting those still on the bench. I have a sense of fellowship, even though I do not face the daily routines nor the crushing case assignment backlogs. It allows me the chance to contribute to discussions on issues in which I remain concerned, such as the Rehired Annuitant Program or the “Senior Judge” issue. My continuing membership lets me speak on behalf of those still on the bench that cannot speak to the press or to others due to the constraints imposed by the DOJ.

Gilbert “Thad” Gembacz
Retired U.S. Immigration Judge
Los Angeles, CA