Administratively Close Immigration Court Cases May Soon be Reopened

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In a case (Matter of Castro-Tum, 27 I&N Dec. 271 (A.G. 2018)) he had previously referred to himself for review, the attorney general held that Immigration Judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals have no general authority to administratively close immigration court cases. Accordingly, Immigration Judges and the Board of Immigration Appeal may only administratively close a case where a previous regulation or a previous judicially approved settlement expressly authorizes such an action. Where a case has been administratively closed without such authority, the IJ or the BIA shall recalendar the case on the motion of either party.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions writes, “I hold that immigration judges and the Board do not have the general authority to suspend indefinitely immigration proceedings by administrative closure. Accordingly, immigration judges and the Board may only administratively close a case where a previous regulation or a previous judicially approved settlement expressly authorizes such an action. Where a case has been administratively closed without such authority, the immigration judge or the Board, as appropriate, shall recalendar the case on the motion of either party. The Board has described the practice as “a docket management tool that is used to temporarily pause removal proceedings,” Matter of W-Y-U-, 27 I&N Dec. 17, 18 (BIA 2017), and “remove a case from an Immigration Judge’s active calendar or from the Board’s docket.” Matter of Avetisyan, 25 I&N Dec. 688, 692 (BIA 2012).  Although described as a temporary suspension, administrative closure is effectively permanent in most instances.”

The practice of administrative closure has grown dramatically as the Board has made administrative closure easier to obtain. Statistics maintained by EOIR reveal that over three decades, from EOIR Fiscal Year 1980 to Fiscal Year 2011, 283,366 cases were administratively closed. But in a mere six years, from October 1, 2011 through September 30, 2017, immigration judges and the Board ordered administrative closure in 215,285 additional cases, nearly doubling the total number of cases subjected to administrative closure.

For more information on administratively close immigration court cases,

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