Immig Judges’ Authority to Administratively Close Restored

The US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has restored Administrative Closure as an inherent power of Immigration Court judges, effectively overruling the current administration’s attempt to preclude this standard procedure.  This tool permits adjudication of pending applications by temporarilly suspending immigration court proceedings.

This is a very good decision for persons in immigration court proceedings because when there is potential relief from removal, say when the foreign national has a US wife, or and approved PERM application, the attorney may ask for administrative closure to permit a decision on the green card application and possibly a hardship waiver, so that the foreign national can be granted residency status, or be able to expeditiously return to the United States upon the approval.

This decision overturns the US Attorney General’s recent order trying to stop Immigration Court judges from this procedure, presumably under this Administration’s current policy, which appears to many to be to create dysfunction in the immigration system, delaying applications or procedures that might help legal immigration, assist the undocumented to become documented, or ultimately create new voters out of those who gain legal permanent residence and then citizenship after prolonged court proceedings.

Although the Attorney General normally can set policy guidance for judges, the 4th Circuit determined that the reasoning of the AG was “. . . a stark departure, without notice, from long-used practice and thereby cannot be deemed consistent with earlier and later pronouncements” and inconsistent with its stated goals of expedition and efficiency. The court also found that the tool of administrative closure was inherent in the power establishing the immigration courts, granted to them by the US code — the power to efficiently administer and adjudicate their proceedings.

The case Romero v. Barr, and is located at: http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/opinions/181850.P.pdf

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