As 2021 begins, we await President-elect Joe Biden’s announcement of his pick for Attorney General of the United States. In the meantime, we know one thing is clear: the Department of Justice will finally stop operating as Donald Trump’s personal law firm on January 20. Beginning that day, the DOJ will truly “enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law,” as it purports to have been doing all along according to its own website.
The fact that a mission statement that has been violated every day of Trump’s presidency remains today on the DOJ website is no fluke. The Trump administration wants history to remember it kindly. So, it’s also no wonder that as Trump’s failed term comes to a close, the DOJ released a document entitled, “Myths vs Facts About Immigration Proceedings.” This document, an attempt to debunk 29 supposed myths about asylum claims, judicial decisions, and more, accomplishes nothing other than making an even clearer case for why new leadership is urgently needed.
The document, which expands on a May 2019 version, contains so much spurious information that it has been slammed as “misleading” and “propaganda” by a range of practicing attorneys, immigration advocates, and retired judges, according to a detailed report from Mother Jones. For example, the document presents a myth that there is “wide discrepancy in asylum grant rates across all immigration courts” and tries to dispel it by claiming that 75% of immigration courts have a grant rate of 19% or lower. Yet, the DOJ’s own published data contradict this.
All the falsehoods and gross mischaracterizations have led Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, a policy counsel at the nonpartisan American Immigration Council, to tweet that this new DOJ document amounts to a “stunning admission of the agency’s failures.” Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, slammed the earlier version of this document, calling it “blatantly one-sided political talking points” and questioning why American taxpayers are footing the bill for “such campaign-like tasks.”
The DOJ’s current website also notes, Thomas Jefferson’s claim that “[t]he most sacred of the duties of government [is] to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens” must be “the guiding principle” for all DOJ employees. Indeed, the 86th Attorney General will need to steer the DOJ back toward working for the American people and not the President of the United States. Whoever this individual may be, Biden’s AG pick will finally put the “justice” back in “Justice Department”—giving DOJ employees and America the department we need and deserve.