Senate Floor Statement Recognizing Judge Elizabeth A. Hacker

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

MR. LEVIN. Mr. President, public service is a noble endeavor, and there are many individuals across our great nation that dedicate their lives to making our communities better and function smoothly.  I am pleased today to recognize the illustrious career of one such public servant, a talented and well-respected judge from my home state of Michigan.  Elizabeth A. Hacker’s legal career has spanned more than three decades, and her tenure on the bench has been defined by her sound judgment, wisdom and expansive knowledge of the law.

Judge Hacker is retiring from the federal bench after 32 years of distinguished service to the Detroit Immigration Court and to the U.S. Department of Justice.  Her family, friends and colleagues from the Court and the Michigan Bar gathered this past weekend to celebrate this milestone and to honor her distinguished career. I am delighted to honor her impressive record of public service to our nation, the Justice Department, the City of Detroit and our great state of Michigan. 

Elizabeth Hacker is a proud daughter of Detroit. She received her B.A. from Wayne State University in 1974 and a law degree from the Detroit College of Law in 1978. Following a brief period in private practice, Judge Hacker joined the Detroit office of the Immigration & Naturalization Service in 1980.  She rose quickly within the INS, serving as a naturalization attorney; a trial attorney; a chief attorney; and finally assistant regional counsel for the western region for three immigration districts, including Los Angeles, where she supervised dozens of other immigration attorneys. 

Elizabeth Hacker is currently the senior United States immigration judge for the Immigration Court with jurisdiction over Michigan, Ohio and northern Kentucky. Notably, Judge Hacker re-established the Detroit Immigration Court when she was appointed to the bench in July of 1995. 

While affiliated with the Immigration Service, Judge Hacker acted as an instructor at both Federal Law Enforcement Training Academies, teaching a range of subjects, including the law of arrest, search and seizure, employer sanctions and general immigration law.   

During her long tenure on the Detroit Immigration Court, Judge Hacker handled numerous noteworthy and high-profile cases, many of which were covered extensively by the news media.  Of particular note was the role she played in the deportation of Nazi war criminals that were discovered residing in the United States living under false pretenses. 

In 2011, Judge Hacker wrote the opinion in the trial of Ivan Kalymon for his participation in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution while serving as an armed member of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police during World War II.  Hacker ordered Kalymon deported.

In the months following the attacks of September 2001, Judge Hacker handled several cases involving terrorists and terrorist organizations plotting in the United States.  Many high-stakes cases came before her court.  Her colleagues on immigration courts across the country came to rely on her expertise and experience. They would frequently solicit her opinion on complex matters involving national security. 

Her colleague on the bench, Judge Marsha Nettles, describes Judge Hacker as someone who ensured that everyone who came before her “received a full, fair and complete hearing.  She never forgot the mission of the Immigration Service or the Court.  She always put the mission first, no matter the public pressure or media scrutiny.”   

By all accounts, Judge Hacker is looking forward to her retirement and to spending more time on Grosse Ile with her loving husband, Brian Munson, and doing more cooking, which outside of the law, is her true life’s passion. 

Judge Hacker is a trailblazer.  Through her tireless dedication, sense of purpose and unfailing fidelity to the mission of the Justice Department and the Court, Elizabeth Hacker has set a high standard.  I know my colleagues join me in congratulating Elizabeth Hacker as she concludes her long and distinguished legal career.