Jeff Sessions just reopened the door to deporting 350,000 immigrants whose cases had been closed
Attorney General Sessions’s latest ruling could make the years-long backlog in immigration courts much worse.
Sessions’s decision was issued in the form of a ruling on an individual immigration court case, one that the Board of Immigration Appeals (the semi-appellate body for immigration court) had already ordered the judge to reopen.
But Sessions referred the case to himself for further review — something he’s done with increasing frequency over the past several months — and issued a broad ruling that goes beyond the fate of the one immigrant involved in the case: a decree that immigration judges don’t have the authority to remove cases from the docket, even when government prosecutors are the ones asking to close the case.
Sessions’s use of “self-referrals” has raised alarms among immigration lawyers and judges. One of their biggest concerns is that at the same time that Sessions is telling immigration judges to plow through the backlog, he’s forcing them to hear more cases — making it impossible for them to give each case the time they feel it deserves.
His new ruling seems to confirm that fear. While it won’t automatically add hundreds of thousands of cases to the already overloaded dockets of immigration judges, Sessions’s ruling makes it clear that he expects the Trump administration to start asking for immigrants to get hauled back into court. Read more