WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales chastised immigration judges yesterday for ''intemperate or even abusive" conduct toward people seeking asylum in the United States and ordered a comprehensive review of US immigration courts.
In a sharply worded memo, Gonzales said he acted after seeing reports that immigration judges, who are Justice Department employees, produced poor-quality work and treated immigrants discourteously.
''To the aliens who stand before you, you are the face of American justice. Not all will be entitled to the relief they seek. But I insist that each be treated with courtesy and respect," Gonzales said.
The nation's 215 immigration judges handled 350,000 matters last year, according to the department's Executive Office for Immigration Review.
The attorney general said that most of the judges do their job well.
But federal appellate judges in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and San Francisco have recently criticized the quality and, in some cases, the sarcastic, disparaging tone of immigration judges' work in determinations of whether foreigners may remain in the United States.