‘This ruling chokes off an abuse that has gone on far too long: letting deportable aliens stay…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) Government bureaucrats and unelected judges often work within the confines of the law to achieve preferred policy outcomes.
Immigration courts are no different, and last Thursday Attorney General Jeff Sessions took aim at immigration judges whose discretionary tactics during the Obama administration amounted to a so-called “stealth amnesty.”
Sessions ordered an end to the practice known as “administrative closure,” where immigration judges close deportation cases to make them disappear from court dockets.
When an illegal alien’s case is administratively closed, the alien is allowed to stay in the country until their case is reopened.
Except, once closed, these cases rarely – if ever – see the light of day again.
Putting cases on hold has “effectively resulted in illegal aliens remaining indefinitely in the United States without any formal legal status,” Sessions said, according to The Hill.
Sessions noted that fourteen legal briefs were filed by different parties seeking to influence the decision.
Only one of the parties, the Immigration Reform Law Institute, took a position against allowing immigrants to remain in the U.S. while judges put their cases on pause.
“We are pleased that the Attorney General agreed with us and not the thirteen briefs on the other side,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of Immigration Reform Law Institute.
“This ruling chokes off an abuse that has gone on far too long: letting deportable aliens stay by making their immigration cases just disappear,” Wilcox said, adding that the lopsidedness of legal briefs supporting open borders and mass immigration is typical.
For example, David W. Leopold, who oversees the immigration law group at Ulmer & Berne, told the New York Times that “Sessions is using his authority as attorney general to turn the immigration courts into a deportation assembly line, with ICE officers waiting at the exits with open handcuffs in hand.”
Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the Immigration Lawyers Association, also opposed Sessions’s order.
He told the Times– which identifies Sessions as an immigration hard-liner – that, “Due process demands that we maintain an immigration court system with independent judges who have the authority and flexibility to make decisions.”
Despite the assertive views, Sessions made clear that there are no laws or regulations giving immigration judges the authority to use administrative closure in such widespread ways.
Rather, it’s a discretionary procedure meant for narrow circumstances.
Sessions’s order also allows for previous administratively closed cases to be reopened if the Department of Homeland Security – which has jurisdiction over ICE – requests it.
That could put hundreds of thousands of deportation cases currently considered closed back on federal immigration court dockets.
This “ruling ends stealth amnesty going forward, and frees the government to roll back the massive stealth amnesty that has already happened,” a statement from the Immigration Reform Law Institute says.
The out-of-sight, out-of-mind immigration practice flourished during the Obama administration with the official explanation being that it allowed judges to focus on more serious deportation cases and reduce an overwhelming immigration court backlog.
But the case backlog was exacerbated by the Obama administration, and it was another way illegal immigrants were enabled to remain in the country.
“Immigration judges undoubtedly are overworked, but they are charged with applying our immigration laws, and have no authority simply to erase deportable aliens’ cases from the docket,” Wilcox said.
“Now the administration’s duty is clear: to step up, re-calendar these prior cases, and finally bring them to a conclusion,” he added.