Activist judges who have been helping to keep illegal aliens in America are about to get stopped in their tracks.
Fox News reports that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is examining a practice judges have used to indefinitely set aside immigration cases, according to senior Justice Department officials:
The practice, known as “administrative closure,” has the effect of giving the subjects of those cases permission to remain in the U.S. and keep any benefits they have been given such as a work authorization.
Sessions has certified one such case for his personal review. This allows him to consider the factors of the case and, according to senior DOJ officials, “render a decision that is binding on immigration courts, and everyone across the federal government writ large.”
Sessions could, in this way, potentially end the practice of administrative closures.
The authority Sessions is employing is spelled out in the statute of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Senior DOJ officials note that the same authority has been used multiple times by previous attorneys general, including Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, Michael Mukasey, Alberto Gonzales and John Ashcroft.
There are 350,000 cases that are administratively closed currently and, of those, former President Obama’s administration closed 180,000 of them. It is more then the past 22 years combined, Department of Justice officials said.
The attorney general has sent a letter asking questions to the Department of Homeland Security and to the parties involved in the case that is being reviewed. Sessions is going to use the answers to inform his decision on how to proceed, according to Fox.
Among those questions is whether the judges and decision-makers “have the authority, under any statute, or regulation, or delegation of authority from the Attorney General, to order administrative closure in a case?”
Sessions also asks what actions should be taken regarding administratively closed cases if he were to determine that judges and the appeals board do not have that authority.
The attorney general has given the parties until Feb. 2 to file their responses.
There is currently a backlog of roughly 650,000 immigration cases — a decision to end the administrative closure practice could add 350,000 cases to that pile.
The case in which Attorney General Sessions intervened on Friday was that of a boy who came to the United States from Central America in 2014. In the letter sent to the parties he asked a number of questions. Among them, according to the Los Angeles Times, were:
• By what authority do judges issue such closures and under what criteria?
• Should he revoke that authority?
• Is there another mechanism to address legitimate concerns?
• Should judges revisit the 350,000 closed cases if Sessions decides they don’t have authority to do administrative closures?
Immigration judges are employees of the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, giving the attorney general broad oversight powers even as they assert independence. Sessions, a former U.S. senator from Alabama and immigration hardliner, signaled last month that he planned to be heavily involved in setting policies aimed at reducing a court backlog of 650,000 cases and deciding cases more quickly, and Friday’s announcement was a step in that direction.
Sessions intervened Friday in the case of Reynaldo Castro-Tum, who came to the country as a child in 2014 from Guatemala, to launch a review that may affect every judge. He asked what authority judges have to issue administrative closures and under what criteria, whether he should revoke that authority and whether there is another mechanism to address legitimate concerns. He also questioned whether judges should revisit the 350,000 cases currently closed if he decides the practice is unwarranted.