A nationwide organization of U.S. immigration judges demanded immediate action to ensure that the U.S. Department of Justice operates without xenophobia, racism, and anti-semitism after the department sent an email with a link to a white nationalist website to employees of the immigration court system.
As Buzzfeed News first reported late Thursday, the DOJ's Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) sent a link to a blog post from the white nationalist website VDare, attacking immigration judges and calling for the decertification of the National Association of Immigration Judges (NAIJ), as part of a regular news briefing it sends to all court employees.
The blog post, sent in Monday's briefing, included the term "lugenpresse," German for "lying press," in relation to the New York Times, taking the word that was commonly used by Adolf Hitler's Nazi Party regarding the press and Hitler's critics. It also referred to NAIJ leaders as "kritarch."
In a letter to the EOIR, NAIJ President Ashley Tabaddor wrote that the use of the term "kritarch" was anti-Semitic:
The reference to Kritarch in a negative tone is deeply offensive and anti-Semitic. The Kritarchy is a reference to ancient Israel during the time when there was rule by judges...VDare's use of the term in a pejorative manner casts Jewish history in a negative light as an anti-Semitic trope of Jews seeking power and control.
"Our union certainly has the right enemies," said Peter Shearon, president of the International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers (IFPTE), the parent union of the NAIJ. "This horrible attempt at ethnic intimidation shows exactly why immigration judges—like other highly skilled technical and professional workers—need a voice on the job. We are committed to stand together against any attempt to harass or threaten our members."
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.)—who has been accused by conservatives of anti-Semitism because of her criticism of the Israeli government—was among those who decried the attacks on the judges.
"There is no bottom," she wrote of the Trump administration, calling on Congress to condemn the DOJ office's actions.
Why is Trump’s Justice Department sending out literal white nationalist content with attacks on our own immigration judges?
There is no bottom.
We as a coequal branch of government need to call for an apology and hold them fully accountable. https://t.co/2igiWBA1v4
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— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) August 22, 2019
VDare is run by Peter Brimelow, who has ties to white nationalist Richard Spencer and who publicly said in 2017 that Latinos are "prone" to rape.
Immigration attorney Matthew Hoppock told The Washington Post that he has obtained every EOIR briefing since September 2018 through Freedom of Information Act requests, and that so-called "news" items from right-wing websites including the Daily Caller and Breitbart News have been commonplace in the briefings, which are meant to spread information about immigration, for at least a year.
"Sometimes they link to The Washington Post or BuzzFeed, but a lot of times it's just nonsense," Hoppock told the Post. "It feels like propaganda. It feels like they're being given an agenda, when they're supposed to be neutral."
Another critic, writer Molly McKew, wrote that evidence that DOJ employees who oversee immigration law view anti-immigration websites as news sources was "the real issue" at hand.
The Justice Dept sent out a link to VDare, which is a white supremacist/neo-Nazi website.
And of course the real issue here is people at DoJ are reading neo-Nazi propaganda often enough that they don't think it's a problem to send out the link...
— Molly McKew (@MollyMcKew) August 22, 2019
In her letter to the EOIR, Tabaddor wrote that the NAIJ "supports the First Amendment and the freedom of expression it protects...VDare has every right to publish its anonymous opinions."
"However," she added, "the Department of Justice's use of its authority to legitimize and provide an imprimatur of respectability to this website under the guise of 'news' runs counter to American ideals of equality under the law."