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Under Pressure from the President, Jeff Sessions Moves to Squeeze Immigration Courts

corte-suprema-di-cassazione-3682663_640-300x200Recent decisions by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions may place heavier limitations on immigration courts and impact their treatment of unlawfully present immigrants, signifying a change in the way immigration courts may start handling certain types of cases and the way immigration law is enforced in the US.

The first is a ruling wherein Sessions declares that an immigration judge’s discretion is not enough to dismiss a case.

“The authority to dismiss or terminate proceedings is not a free-floating power an immigration judge may invoke whenever he or she believes that a case no longer merits space on the docket,” Session wrote in the 7-page ruling.

As a result, immigration judges are now required to refer to the judgment and findings of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should they decide that a case is no longer worth pursuing. Immigrants who can definitively prove that their presence in the US are deemed lawful and get a free pass.

Benjamin Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, said that the decision appears to part of a systematic effort to “marginalize the role of immigration judges in their own courtrooms.”

Johnson also insisted on the independence of immigration courts from the Justice Department.

The second is a case whose outcome will have a tangible effect on how courts handle applications for asylum as well as asylum seekers themselves. At present, policy dictates that foreign nationals who come to the US border to seek refuge may stay in the country, are entitled to a bond hearing, and may be released from custody if they can prove that there is credible fear of their country of origin.

Sessions may overturn that 2005 ruling, resulting in the indefinite detention of thousands of asylum seekers while they are denied access to due process. Sessions directed the Board of Immigration Appeals to refer the case to himself.

Sessions has, however, opened arguments on the case to the public, inviting parties and interested groups to these proceedings to submit briefs relevant to the case. The Department of Justice is accepting briefs not exceeding 9,000 words due on Oct. 16, 2018.

The moves may be responsive to President Trump’s displeasure of his attorney general. Trump, whose campaign was hinged on anti-immigrant rhetoric, publicly criticized Sessions and expressed his dissatisfaction with the way immigration is presently being handled.

“I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very said,” Trump claimed in one interview.

If you, or a loved one, have questions about aylum or need assistance on your asylum application, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the legal team of the Lyttle Law Firm. Call our offices at 512) 215-5225 to schedule a consultation with immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle.