Attorney General Sessions Further Restricts Immigration Judge’s Independence

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Attorney General Sessions Further Restricts Immigration Judge’s Independence

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions placed yet another restriction on immigration judges, limiting when they can terminate cases in removal proceedings.

Sessions held that immigration judges are only allowed to terminate or dismiss, immigration court cases under “specific and circumscribed” conditions. These “specific” conditions include, for instance, times when the Department of Homeland Security cannot prove its case, or when the case involved “exceptionally appealing or humanitarian factors.”

Typically, when an immigration judge terminates removal proceedings against an individual, the Department of Homeland Security has the ability to re-file charges to bring that person into removal proceedings again if that person becomes deportable. But the termination of cases is frequently used to allow individuals to pursue avenues to legalize his or her status through USCIS or another agency.

This change by Sessions is the latest move in his attempt to take away the power of immigration judges to independently monitor their own dockets and cases. Before this decision Sessions also issued decisions regarding what types of cases qualify for asylum and when immigration judges can temporarily close cases, and he has attempted to dictate how many cases judges hear each year.

Because immigration judges are part of the Department of Justice, they are under the authority of the Attorney General. But following the many restrictions Sessions has put on the courts, some are calling for the immigration courts to be independent federal courts under Article III of the Constitution. This would allow much more independence of immigration judges to manage their own dockets as they see fit instead of following quotas and guidelines set by the Attorney General.

If you have a case in removal proceedings or you’re curious about your immigration options, contact Joseph & Hall P.C. for a consultation.

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