WASHINGTON, DC, May 17, 2018 – Today, in a precedent decision, the Attorney General of the United States announced that immigration judges and members of the Board of Immigration Appeals no longer have the authority to “administratively close” court cases before them, with the exception of cases that meet very narrow criteria. With this move, the Attorney General has eliminated a critical docket management tool, effectively ensuring that the immigration court system will remain encumbered with massive case backlogs well into the future.
AILA President Annaluisa Padilla responded, “In today’s decision the Attorney General grossly misinterprets the law and disregards existing federal regulation and decades of immigration court practice. The Attorney General cherry-picked a case that is not reflective of the universe of cases that have been administratively closed and with the stroke of a pen, dismissed the inherent authority of judges to manage immigration court proceedings, an authority that has been recognized for more than 30 years and that the National Association of Immigration Judges strongly supports as a matter of court efficiency. Unfortunately, today’s decision represents the first in a series of efforts by the Attorney General to singlehandedly rewrite immigration law.”
AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson stated, “This decision is yet another effort by this administration to undermine due process in immigration proceedings. Due process demands that we maintain an immigration court system with independent judges who have the authority and flexibility to make decisions that are not only legally correct but are also grounded in fundamental fairness. Immigration judges use administrative closure for many legitimate reasons, including court efficiency. But it is also often employed when an immigrant is eligible for some type of legal status that can be pursued outside of court with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Forcing these cases through the court system while another agency is determining the person’s eligibility for an immigration benefit wastes finite court resources that can and should be used on more pressing cases. Today’s decision erodes judicial independence and strips due process from immigrants, turning the court into a machine for deportations rather than an arbiter of justice.”
For more information about the immigration court system, AILA’s page on the issue can be accessed at http://www.aila.org/immigrationcourts.