In a decision issued today, Attorney General Sessions has upended over thirty years of precedent allowing immigration courts and the Board of Immigration Appeals to administratively close proceedings. Now, there administrative closure is no longer available, with very limited exceptions. "Administrative closure" allows immigration courts to suspend cases in their discretion, for reasons such as pending applications outside of the court, grants of Temporary Protected Status, and when the ICE agreed to close the case because it was not an enforcement priority. Some cases have been administratively closed only a few months, others for decades.
While non-citizens in active removal proceedings will generally no longer be able to consider administrative closure as an option, this is a bigger concern for the approximately 344,000 people in administratively closed proceedings. The EOIR will not automatically recalendar administratively closed proceedings, but must grant requests to recalendar filed by respondents or DHS.
Notably, Attorney General Sessions expects DHS to request recalendaring in a "measured but deliberate fashion." Therefore, those with administratively closed proceedings should be prepared for their removal or deportation cases to resume in the near future. The court will send notices to respondents' last known addresses or their attorneys of record. Those who fail to attend a scheduled hearing will usually be ordered removed in their absence.
Therefore, it is vital that anyone with administratively closed removal proceedings- especially those closed for many years who may have moved- make sure they are in contact with their attorneys if they are represented. If they do not have attorneys or their attorneys are no longer available, they should update the court of their address. As an additional precaution, we recommend calling the immigration court telephonic information system at 1 800-898-7180 regularly to determine whether they are scheduled for a hearing.
Because the decision is very new, we will have a much better idea how things will proceed in the future. Therefore, people with administratively closed removal proceedings should keep up to date with this site or other source of current news.
Bean + Lloyd, LLP is an immigration law firm in Oakland, California
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