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Attorney General Rules That the BIA Must Examine Asylum Claims De Novo

Vacating the BIA’s decision concerning the asylum claims of a Salvadoran woman who had established persecution on account of her membership in a particular social group—“Salvadoran females”—the Attorney General ruled that in reviewing asylum claims, the BIA must examine de novo whether facts found by the immigration judge satisfy all statutory elements of asylum as a matter of law, and that the BIA should meaningfully review each element of an asylum claim before affirming or independently ordering a grant of asylum. Matter of A-C-A-A-, 28 I&N Dec. 84 (A.G. 2020)

Fourth Circuit Strikes Down Attorney General Opinion, Restores Fundamental Power to Immigration Judges

The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in Zuniga Romero v. Barr that immigration judges have the authority to administratively close cases pending before them. The court concluded that immigration law unambiguously permits immigration judges to control their own dockets.

U.S. Senators Urge Attorney General to Rescind Decision on Matter of L‑E‑A‑

Twelve senators sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr urging him to rescind his decision in Matter of L‑E‑A‑, which limits access to asylum for people fleeing persecution abroad because of their family ties, citing that his decision disregards decades of legal precedent.

Trump’s New Attorney General Launches Fresh Changes to Immigration Courts

The San Francisco Chronicle reports DOJ plans to issue rule changes that would make it easier for a handful of appellate immigration judges to declare their rulings binding on the entire immigration system. The changes could also expand the use of single-judge, cursory decisions at the appellate level.

Acting AG Suspends Briefing Schedule for Matter of Castillo-Perezand Matter of L–E–A– Due to Government Shutdown

Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker announced that in light of the lapse in appropriations, he is suspending the briefing schedules for Matter of Castillo-Perez and Matter of L–E–A–, two cases that he referred to himself for review. New briefing schedules will be set when DOJ and DHS receive funding permitting them to resume normal operations. In both cases, under the new briefing schedules, briefs from amici will be due no earlier than February 1, 2019.

Jeff Sessions Is Exerting Unprecedented Control Over Immigration Courts — By Ruling on Cases Himself

On three BIA decisions that the Attorney General has referred to himself for review, as well as a proposal in DOJ’s spring 2018 regulatory agenda that could widen the Attorney General’s power over the immigration court system

Trump Replaces Acting Attorney General and Acting ICE Director

As reported in today’s Immigration Politics Ticker, last night President Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates, after she ordered DOJ not to defend Trump’s Executive Order (EO) barring foreign nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries and refugees against legal challenges. Trump replaced Yates with Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, who will serve as acting Attorney General until the Attorney General nominee is confirmed. Also last night, President Trump appointed Thomas D. Homan as acting ICE Director, to replace acting ICE Director Daniel Ragsdale.

Is a Statute Divisible for inadmissibility purposes?

The Attorney General (AG) referred two decisions of the BIA, Matter of Chairez-Castrejonand Matter of Sama, to herself for review of an issue relating to the application ofDescamps v. United States, ordering that those cases be stayed and not be regarded as precedential or binding as to the issue under review during the pendency of her review. The issue is: What is the proper approach for determining “divisibility” within the meaning ofDescamps? In particular, does Descamps require that a criminal statute be treated as “divisible” for purposes of the modified categorical approach only if, under applicable law, jurors must be unanimous as to the version of the offense committed?

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