AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AG Garland Gives Immigration Judges Back Authority to Administratively Close Cases

7/15/21 AILA Doc. No. 21071540. Removal & Relief

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Attorney General (AG) Merrick Garland vacated the precedent decision in Matter of Castro-Tum, issued by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The decision had been weaponized by the Trump administration to strip immigration judges of their authority to administratively close cases, thereby forcing more cases to remain in the backlog and clog the immigration courts. By vacating this decision, the AG has restored a key tool used by immigration judges for decades to manage dockets and increase efficiency.

AILA President-elect Jeremy McKinney applauded the move, “With this decision the Attorney General has restored the ability for immigration judges to manage their cases fairly and efficiently, by giving them back the ability to administratively close cases when that is warranted. So, when someone is put into removal proceedings, but has a pending petition with USCIS based on for instance, being a victim of a serious crime, the immigration judge can administratively close the proceedings while USCIS considers the petition, saving precious docket time for cases that are ready to move forward. This has the potential to shift hundreds of thousands of cases out of the 1.3 million case backlog and bring more efficiency back to the process.”

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson added, “This rational and sensible step is a relief to families and communities across the nation today. We welcome this return to a more effective and efficient immigration court system. A key judicial authority has been restored to immigration judges who are best positioned to manage their dockets. The necessity of this decision only underscores the need for a truly independent immigration court system to protect due process and help ensure justice and fairness under our laws.”

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