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Government Shutdown Closes Immigration Courts Adding to Record-High 800,000 Case Backlog

CBS News reports that the partial federal government shutdown has closed most immigration courts. AILA Associate Director of Government Relations Kate Voigt said, “Holding the government hostage for a border wall isn’t going to do anything to make the country safer, but it will make the immigration courts worse.” The Washington PostEditorial Board noted the irony of “a president who conjures migrant no-shows in courts manag[ing] to close the courts entirely.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision in Matter of L‑A‑B‑R‑

AG again issues a decision to take power away from the Immigration Judges in order to try to expedite deportation and removals

Chasing Down the Rumors: EOIR IJ Benchbook No Longer In Use

The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) confirmed that the Immigration Judge (IJ) Benchbook has been removed from EOIR’s webpage and is no longer being utilized. According to the agency, use of the IJ Benchbook was discontinued due to challenges in keeping the publication up to date with current case law

Court Rejects Pro Se Petitioner’s Argument That He Was Denied Representation by Counsel

The Seventh Circuit denied the petition for review, holding that the petitioner was afforded due process, because the IJ fully complied with the statutory requirement of INA §240(b)(4) by informing the petitioner of his right to obtain counsel, and offered repeatedly to continue the case to allow him to secure representation.

Immigration Judges cannot be bullies

A case just came down with the following ruling:
Matter of Y-S-L-C-, 26 I&N Dec. 688 (BIA 2015)

(1) The requirements of the Federal Rules of Evidence with respect to the admission of expert testimony are inapposite to a respondent’s testimony regarding events of which he or she has personal knowledge.

(2) Conduct by an Immigration Judge that can be perceived as bullying or hostile is never appropriate, particularly in cases involving minor respondents, and may result in remand to a different Immigration Judge.

Iranian IJ wins suit

NPR reports that DOJ has agreed to lift an order recusing Los Angeles-based Immigration Judge Ashley Tabaddor from all cases involving Iranian nationals. Last year, Judge Tabaddor sued DOJ, claiming that the order amounted to discrimination and violated her constitutional rights. DOJ also agreed to pay Judge Tabaddor $200,000, and to review its recusal policies.

Mentally incompetent in Immigration Court?

In a precedent decision issued today, the BIA found that neither the government nor the respondent bears a formal burden of proof in immigration proceedings to establish whether or not the respondent is mentally competent, but where indicia of incompetency are identified, the Immigration Judge (IJ) should determine if a preponderance of the evidence establishes that the respondent is competent. Further, the BIA held that an IJ’s finding of competency is a finding of fact that the BIA can review to determine if it is clearly erroneous.

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