RMIAN Denounces Attorney General's Decision Restricting Administrative Closure

May 21, 2018
Contact: Ashley Harrington, aharrington@rmian.org, (720) 370-9104

Last Thursday, May 17, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a decision in Matter of Castro-Tum that will have a devastating impact on the independence of U.S. immigration judges, the efficiency of immigration courts, and the ability for immigrants to receive justice. With the stroke of his pen, Sessions overruled years of binding court precedent allowing immigration judges to “administratively close” removal proceedings. This important procedural tool has been used by judges to temporarily remove cases from their active court calendars, most commonly to allow people to pursue applications for immigration relief outside the court—thus allowing the courts to focus on cases that are ripe for resolution. There currently are approximately 350,000 cases that have been administratively closed that could now be returned to the courts’ active dockets, which are already strained and overwhelmed with more than 650,000 cases pending nationwide.

“This decision will add to an already overly-burdened immigration court docket and severely impact the efficiency of the immigration court system for all, including our nation's most vulnerable immigrants. Many abused, abandoned, and neglected children, unaccompanied children, and victims of serious crimes have had their removal proceedings properly administratively closed while they pursue applications for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, asylum, and U visas with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which has sole jurisdiction over these applications. These applications are severely backlogged and can take years for USCIS to adjudicate. It makes no sense to return these vulnerable children and families to the active court docket while they are pursuing immigration status outside the court's jurisdiction,” said RMIAN Children’s Program Managing Attorney Ashley Harrington.

RMIAN joins the The American Immigration Lawyers Association in denouncing this harmful decision.

For more information, please see the following news reports from National Public Radio, the Huffington Post, and the New York Times.