Kelly Cohen, Washington Examiner, November 12, 2017
Government data shows the Trump administration has already shifted the “culture” of immigration attorneys, who used to have more tools under the Obama administration to delay court decisions on whether to remove illegal immigrants, but are now being forced to push for a final verdict more quickly.
A report released by the Center for Immigration Studies earlier this year said the Obama era closed up to 200,000 deportation cases by using administrative closure.
But statistics provided by EOIR show that since President Trump took office, total orders of removal and final decisions issued by an immigration judge have increased.
From February to the end of September, immigration judges issued 100,000 final decisions on cases — and increase of 16 percent over the same period in 2016. The total number of removal orders increased 29 percent.
And since Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memorandum to all immigration judges, court administrators, attorney advisors and judicial law clerks, and immigration court staff in July, the DOJ official said there has already been a change in how continuances are used. The six-page memo reminded immigration judges when administrative closures should actually be used.
“[T]he delays caused by granting multiple and lengthy continuances, when multiplied across the entire immigration court, exacerbate already crowded immigration dockets,” the memo said.
“They utilized a mechanism called administrative closure to remove the immediate threat of deportation by putting an immigrant into a state of legal limbo. Although still subject to the immigration court’s jurisdiction, an immigrant facing deportation would no longer have to be concerned about having their case scheduled for a hearing. In sum, their case was put on the back burner of the stove, with the burner turned off,” Kolken [Matthew Kolken, an immigration lawyer] described to the Washington Examiner.