After both the director and deputy director of the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) resigned Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions named James McHenry acting director.
Director Juan Osuna and Deputy Director Ana Kocur, both appointed by former President Barack Obama, announced their resignations Friday in an email to all EOIR employees, according to a report in Politico. No reason appears to be given for their resignations, but the pair reportedly will depart the agency, which oversees all the Department of Justice’s immigration judges, at the end of the month.
Sessions announced his pick for an acting director to take Osuna’s place, James McHenry, Friday afternoon. McHenry is serving as an administrative law judge in EOIR’s Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer. Different from an immigration judge, McHenry’s position resolves cases other than those dealing with immigration status and deportations like employers hiring illegal aliens and immigration-related document fraud.
McHenry has also worked in the DOJ’s Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, at the Department of Homeland Security and as a special assistant United States attorney for the Criminal Division.
In his new role, McHenry will, if Congress agrees to the administration’s budget requests, oversee a nearly 25 percent expansion of the number of immigration judges at EOIR. This staffing-up has been a priority since Jeff Sessions began his tenure at DOJ. There is a reported backlog of more than 500,000 immigration cases and only around 300 immigration judges nationwide to hear them.
“I am pleased James McHenry has agreed to lead the Executive Office for Immigration Review, and the Justice Department is fortunate to have him act as the agency’s director,” Attorney General Sessions said in a statement accompanying the appointment. “His experience will serve the department well as EOIR works to reduce the immigration court backlog and to ensure that the law is applied in a fair and efficient manner in immigration proceedings.”