Attorney General’s Concerted Effort to Strip Immigration Judges of Judicial Independence Continues

WASHINGTON, DC, Sept. 19, 2018 – Late yesterday, the Attorney General issued the latest in an unprecedented slate of six removal matters that he has referred to himself to unilaterally decide. The decision, Matter of S-O-G- & F-D-B-, will prevent judges from terminating a case, except in exceptionally narrow circumstances.

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson characterized the decision as “part of a systematic effort to marginalize the role of immigration judges in their own courtrooms. By placing his thumb firmly on the scales of justice, the Attorney General shows a fundamental disregard for immigration courts and judges, and their vital role in the administration of justice. Moreover, the Attorney General issued the decision without an opportunity for additional briefing, or even any advance notice that he was considering the case. Time and time again the Attorney General’s actions have shown us that an immigration court system housed under the Department of Justice cannot be one that guarantees due process. AILA calls on Congress to create an independent Article I immigration court.”

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AILA Treasurer Jeremy McKinney noted, “With this decision, the Attorney General is saying that IJs can no longer terminate cases, with the exception of a few narrow circumstances. Cases will be forced to proceed, even when the person could pursue relief before USCIS or the Department of State, wasting the court’s time and resources. Taken with Matter of Castro-Tum and Matter of L-A-B-R-, this decision demonstrates that the Attorney General wants every case to move as fast as possible toward deportation regardless of the specific circumstances. Our nation needs immigration judges to be fair and neutral when making life and death decisions.”

The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members. www.AILA.org