U.S. and Iran Reach Atomic Deal — DOJ and Iranian-American IJ Also Settle

By David North on August 20, 2015

The governments of the United States, Iran, and five other nations — amidst much public attention — have reached an agreement on atomic energy and sanctions.

Earlier this week, and very quietly, the Department of Justice and one of its immigration judges, an Iranian-American, have settled their differences out of court. For the PACER file on the case, see here.

I am sure that the two events had nothing to do with each other, but while the agreement with Iran has been published, praised, and damned, we may never know what's in the DOJ-IJ agreement at all. The federal court for the Central District in California has acknowledged the settlement, but no details have been forthcoming.

It all started more than a year ago when DOJ issued an order that Ashley Tabaddor, one of the immigration judges in Los Angeles, was to hear no cases involving Iranian aliens; no other judge in the nation was so restricted, and Tabaddor sued her bosses, saying, among other things, that her rights to free speech were being attacked.

In a blog published exactly one year ago today, I reported that the judge apparently had irked her superiors, perhaps by attending a White House gathering on her own time, which she did as a representative of an Iranian-American organization. (Would an African-American judge attending a White House meeting as a representative of the NAACP be similarly treated? I doubt it.)

Whatever DOJ's motive was, she was barred from hearing cases involving Iranians.

This was a virtually meaningless ruling given the very low incidence of Iranians in IJ courtrooms, generally, and the high rate of approvals in their asylum cases because of Iran's ill-treatment of its Baha'i religious minority, the most likely people from that nation to be in immigration court. That Judge Tabaddor would hear an Iranian case that was likely to fail, and to approve such an applicant anyway, was about as likely as an American League pitcher winning the World Series for his team with a home run.

We will see if the terms of the settlement are published — they usually are not in civil cases — but I suspect the administration has retreated from its previous, untenable position. The hundreds of hours of DOJ lawyers' time presumably spent on this non-issue would have been better spent in court, arguing for the expulsion of illegal aliens.