AG Jeff Sessions is unfit to decide immigration case, say immigration groups

February 21, 2018

Washington, D.C.– In a rare move, Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred an immigration case to himself in January, invoking a federal regulation that allows him to reconsider cases already decided by the Board of Immigration Appeals—the body that hears appeals from immigration courts nationwide. Sessions intervened in the case of Reynaldo Castro-Tum, who was 19-years-old and not represented by a lawyer at the time an immigration judge administratively closed his deportation case. Administrative closure is a standard procedure used by immigration judges to manage their dockets and temporarily stop removal proceedings for people who are awaiting the resolution of other matters relevant to their immigration cases.

In response, the American Immigration Council, joined by several other immigration groups, submitted an amicus brief (friend of the court brief) on Friday to the Office of the Attorney General in this case arguing that Sessions’ prior anti-immigrant statements and actions demonstrate that he is unfit to decide the case. The brief was filed by the Council and the law firm of Arnold & Porter.

The brief argues that due process requires an impartial adjudicator and that Sessions’ anti-immigrant statements and actions prevent him from acting as one. The brief lays out Sessions’ decades-long public record of anti-immigrant statements, including specific statements evidencing prejudgment of issues in the case, and urges Sessions to either vacate the referral order or recuse himself from the case.

Sessions, who has led the Department of Justice’s efforts to impose the most anti-immigrant policies in generations and has questioned immigration judges’ authority to administratively close cases, could unilaterally change the law in a way that negatively affects approximately 350,000 immigration cases and floods an already overburdened immigration court system.

You can view the full brief online here


For more information, please contact Maria Frausto at [email protected] or 202-507-7526.

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