A federal judge in the District of Columbia (DC) banned the Justice Department (DOJ) to enforce a regulation Posted in December in the Federal Register (American official gazette) with the aim of speeding up the processes of deportation in Immigration Court (EOIR).
The rule also indicated that, as of January 15, five days before the inauguration of the Joe Biden, all the opinions issued by the judges of immigration They may be reversed, a situation that has put thousands of immigrants who are legally fighting to stay in the country.
Federal District Judge Richard J. Leon halted implementation of the measure while the plaintiffs, including the National Center for Immigrant Justice and CLINIC Legal, a Catholic network that provides legal assistance to immigrants nationwide, continue to challenge the measure in court.
In the decision, Leon said the group of plaintiffs had demonstrated, based on the evidence, the existence of probabilities of success.
The Trump-era rule stipulated that immigration judges would have less discretion and the sentences they pass can be reversed by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
The new rule also eliminated the discretionary power of judges to decide cases and opened the door to reverse sentences in cases of reopening and reconsideration of cases, thus limiting the administration of justice.
The changes, however, did not prevent the parties within a process “from filing joint motions, even in situations where there has been a relevant change in the facts or the law.”
Following publication, the DOJ granted a 30-day period for public comment, a timeframe that was also challenged by Judge Leon in his sentencing. “Thirty days is probably not long enough to provide a meaningful opportunity to comment on highly technical and complex regulation,” he said.
The suspended rule was announced by the Department of Justice (DOJ) at the end of august from last year. The ministry said on that occasion that it would “amend the regulations of the Immigration Court regarding the handling of appeals.”
The government indicated that the “multiple changes in the processing of appeals” were aimed at “ensuring the consistency, efficiency and quality of its awards.”
He added that the change was considered for the first time in 2018 by the then attorney general, Jeff Sessions, who sought to limit the power of immigration judges to expedite the deportations.
At that time, the official signed an interim order that established the standard of “good cause” for judges to postpone or cancel a deportation proceeding.
The decision jeopardized thousands of cases whose holders have been living in the country for years. A year later, an appeals court gave immigration judges in four states the power to administratively close deportation cases. And also to the members of the Court of Appeals.
Reactions to failure
The national network CLINIC, one of the plaintiffs, announced on its Twitter social network account Judge Leon’s ruling and said that initially the Department of Justice had opposed pausing the measure while the Biden government reviewed it.
The ruling indicates that the plaintiffs demonstrated that the immigrants will suffer irreparable damage if the measure is not stopped immediately.
Keren Zwick, senior attorney at the National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC), told Law360 the organization was “pleased” that the court recognized “the devastating consequences this rule will have if allowed to go into effect.”
They were alarmed
Lawyers consulted by Univision Noticias said that the suspended norm represented a notable risk for those immigrants in deportation proceedings who were legally fighting their permanence in the country.
“All the news is bad with this proposal,” said Rebeca Sánchez-Roig, an immigration attorney practicing in Miami, Florida, who for 15 years as an immigration prosecutor at the Department of Justice, said in August.
He added that when it came into force “it reformed the BIA processes and eliminated due process guarantees in order to speed up deportations; that is, deportations by jet ”(rocket).
The final rule published in December granted the director of the Immigration Court “a political appointee, extraordinary power of adjudication on appeals and authorized him to reverse, on his own, the decisions of the BIA if requested by an immigration judge,” explained the a lawyer.
“The result of this proposed regulation is depressing. He granted broad powers to a bureaucrat, to a politician selected by the government who he placed in his hands power and independence to make quick, dizzying decisions at the sacrifice of due process, ”he added.
Attorneys said the suspended regulation, in addition to dismantling the appeals process, formally restricted immigration judges and BIA members from using their discretion to temporarily pause lower-priority proceedings.
“Judge León restored the rights to immigrants,” said José Guerrero, an immigration attorney practicing in Miami, Florida. “Now they will be able to defend their rights to stay in the United States within due process and without the threat that their sentences will be changed by a political director.”