Sign-On Letter to the Attorney General Regarding BIA Reform

February 11, 2002

The Honorable John Ashcroft
Attorney General
Department of Justice
Tenth Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530

Dear Attorney General Ashcroft:

The undersigned organizations write to express our grave concerns about the proposed regulatory changes to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) that you announced on February 6.  We take issue with both the substance of these reported changes and the comment period of thirty days that you have reportedly set.

While we support your stated goal of ensuring that the BIA achieve timely and efficient adjudications and backlog reduction, we believe that the Administration’s proposal would not successfully address the backlog and case time concerns, and could lead to a diminution of due process.

Rather than moving forward with this plan, we urge you to bring together interested constituencies to examine and recommend proposals to improve administrative review in a way that will affirm the independence and impartiality of the BIA, facilitate immigrants’ access to the BIA, enhance due process, efficiency, accountability, and consistency, and facilitate oversight and review.

At a minimum, we call on you to extend to sixty days the comment period on this proposed regulation.  Thirty days offers insufficient time to comment on a complicated issue that has enormous consequences for immigrant communities nationwide.



National Organizations

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)
American Civil Liberties Union
American Immigration Lawyers Association
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
Immigration and Refugee Services of America
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Lawyers Committee on Human Rights
League of United Latin American Citizens
Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service
National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium
National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO)
National Council of La Raza
National Immigration Forum
National Immigration Law Center
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyer’s Guild

Local Organizations

American Civic Association (Binghamton, New York)
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (New York, New York)
Asian Law Caucus (San Francisco, California)
Asian Pacific American Legal Center (Los Angeles, California)
Association of Haitian Women (Boston, Massachusetts)
Boston Center for Refugee Health & Human Rights (Boston, Massachusetts)
Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights (CAIR) Coalition
Catholic Charities Immigration Counseling Services (Dallas, Texas)
Catholic Charities Immigration Services (Portland, Oregon)
Catholic Charities Refugee and Immigrant Services of San Diego (San Diego, California)
Center for Human Rights Advocacy (Boulder, Colorado)
Detention Resources Project (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc. (El Paso, Texas)
Erie County Bar Association, Volunteer Lawyers Project (Buffalo, New York)
Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project (Florence, Arizona)
Golden Vision Foundation (York, Pennsylvania)
HIAS and Central Migration Service of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Immigrant Legal Resource Center (San Francisco, California)
International Institute of Boston (Boston, Massachusetts)
International Institute of Buffalo, NY (Buffalo, New York)
International Institute of Connecticut (Bridgeport, Connecticut)
International Institute of Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California)
International Institute of New Jersey (Jersey City, New Jersey)
International Institute of Rhode Island (Providence, Rhode Island)
International Institute of San Francisco (San Francisco, California)
Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center (El Paso, Texas)
Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition
Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
Nationalities Service Center of Philadelphia (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (Granger, Washington)
Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (Seattle, Washington)
Political Asylum/Immigration Representation Project (Boston, Massachusetts)
Refugio del Rio Grande, Inc. (San Benito, Texas)
South Texas Immigration Council, Inc. (Harlingen, Texas)
Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program (Colchester, Vermont)
Washington Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs (Washington, D.C.
Whitman-Walker Clinic Legal Services (Washington, D.C.)
YMCA International Services (Houston, Texas)

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 02021359.