Board of Immigration Appeals Interpretation of Stay of Removal FOIA Request

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

With the end of prosecutorial discretion under the Trump administration, noncitizens living in the United States with a removal order face quick, and almost certain deportation unless they have access to legal safeguards that could prevent their deportation. 

Because transparency and due process are the cornerstones of a fair immigration system, advocates have filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests seeking information regarding motions to stay removal filed in conjunction with motions to reopen or reconsider that had been adjudicated in the fiscal years (“FY”) 2015 through 2018.

Specifically, the first FOIA request sought disclosure of records that would show the frequency with which the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) grants each type of motion, the relationship between stay motions and motions to reopen or reconsider, and the timeline for adjudicating such motions. 

The second FOIA Request sought three categories of records:

  1. Records similar to those requested in the first FOIA Request, but for FY 2008 through FY 2014.
  2. Records reflecting Executive Office for Immigration Review's (EOIR) policies and procedures regarding its processing, recording, and tracking of motions for stays of removal filed in connection with a motion to reopen or motion for reconsideration filed with the BIA.
  3. A random sample of written decisions denying motions for a stay of removal and a random sample of written decisions granting motions for a stay of removal.

The requests were filed on July 17 and November 19, 2018 by the American Immigration Council and the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law with the EOIR within the Department of Justice—which houses the BIA.

We filed a FOIA request seeking statistical information, as well as policies and guidance, regarding Board of Immigration Appeals standards for issuing stays of removal. Because the government failed to respond, we're filing a lawsuit.

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