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ABA Journal
August 21, 2018

DHS has increased requests to open closed immigration court cases
By Lorelei Laird

The news comes a few months after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions used his power as head of the Department of Justice to rule that immigration judges do not usually have the power to administratively close cases. In so doing, he overturned existing precedent from the Board of Immigration Appeals, the panel that hears appeals from immigration court. The ruling from Sessions said the practice of administrative closure lacks legal foundation and “has produced a backlog all its own.” It told immigration judges to recalendar such cases at either party’s request. The ABA had opposed the decision from Sessions, filing an amicus brief in February that argued that administrative closure had legal support, had been used for 30 years and helps immigration judges manage their very high caseloads. Withdrawing judges’ authority will make it harder for certain immigrants to get relief they qualify for, the ABA brief said, and will likely exacerbate the high backlog of pending cases in immigration court—which, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse is 733,365 through June of 2018.

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, Syracuse University
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