EOIR was created in 1983 through an internal department reorganization which combined the Board of Immigration Appeals with the immigration judge function previously performed by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service, which is now part of the Department of Homeland Security. The Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer was added in 1987.
“I am pleased to announce the appointment of James as the permanent director of EOIR. Since his appointment as acting director last May, James has led EOIR in restoring its commitment to the timely and efficient adjudication of immigration cases, and in identifying additional common-sense improvements to the immigration court system,” said Attorney General Sessions. “James is an exceptionally talented and capable leader, and I am confident that he will continue to ensure that EOIR and its components will adjudicate cases in a manner that serves the national interest.”
“Under Attorney General Sessions’ leadership, EOIR has implemented a series of sensible reforms that aim to reduce the pending caseload by realigning the agency towards completing cases, increasing both productivity and capacity, and changing policies that lead to inefficiencies and waste,” said McHenry. “I look forward to building on the success of last year and further realizing our goal of cutting the pending caseload in half by 2020.”
The EOIR director supervises the chair of the Board of Immigration Appeals, the Chief Immigration Judge, the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer and all agency personnel. EOIR has more than 2,100 employees in its 59 immigration courts nationwide, at the BIA, at Office of the Chief Immigration Hearing Officer, and at EOIR headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia.
McHenry first joined EOIR in 2003 through the Attorney General’s Honors Program and returned to the agency in 2016, when he was appointed as an administrative law judge for the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing officer.
Last year, McHenry served as a Deputy Associate Attorney General, working on a variety of immigration-related litigation matters and overseeing multiple components reporting to the Office of the Associate Attorney General. From 2014 to 2016, he served as an administrative law judge for the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review in the Social Security Administration. Prior to that, he worked for the Office of the Principal Legal Adviser, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Department of Homeland Security as an assistant chief counsel and, later, as a senior attorney, where he served as a lead attorney for national security, denaturalization, gang cases, anti-human trafficking operations and worksite enforcement matters. He also served as a special assistant U.S. attorney for the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia.
McHenry earned a B.S. from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service before earning his master’s in political science and J.D. at Vanderbilt. .