WASHINGTON (AP) — The Department of Justice is challenging the right of the country’s 440 immigration judges to be represented by a labor union.

A department spokesman says a petition filed Friday with the Federal Labor Relations Authority contends the union shouldn’t be allowed because the judges are management officials who help decide or shape the agency’s policies.

The National Association of Immigration Judges said Monday the move is an attempt to mute immigration judges who have called for independence from the department.

Association President Ashley Tabaddor says immigration judges don’t set policies or manage staff and can’t even order office supplies.

Immigration judges are Department of Justice employees who are tasked with deciding who can stay in the country legally and who should be deported.

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