IRLI Files Brief Calling for End to Stealth Executive Amnesty

Press Releases

February 16, 2018

Protecting the rule of law and the integrity of our immigration system

WASHINGTON – At the request of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) has filed an important legal brief denouncing yet another unlawful de facto amnesty program operated by the Obama Administration: so-called “administrative closure.” The Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI) prepared the brief on FAIR’s behalf.

Well over 100,000 and possibly as many as 200,000 illegal aliens were effectively amnestied through administrative closures during the second term of the Obama administration alone. Many of these illegal aliens became eligible for work authorization. Officials used administrative closure to manipulate court records to designate these cases as “closed” in official records, when in reality, the backlog of unresolved cases only grew and grew.

The legal abuses identified in the FAIR brief are the handiwork of a coterie of mid-level bureaucrats in the Justice and Homeland Security Departments. Some knowingly promoted illegitimate amnesty-like policies that are clearly outside of federal immigration laws. Others selfishly hoped to boost the performance statistics for the immigration hearings they were employed to conduct.

“Attorney General Sessions spotted this highly irregular activity after his confirmation, when he was confronted with a massive unexplained backlog in immigration court removals. That backlog is a major impediment to immigration law enforcement,” explained IRLI’s executive director and general counsel Dale L. Wilcox. “Sessions ordered a secretarial-level review, including a call for friend-of-the-court briefs, when he learned that Reynaldo Castro-Tum, a 19-year-old Salvadoran illegal alien who was classified as an ‘unaccompanied alien child’ after crossing the Mexican border into the U.S., had received an administrative closure even after failing to appear in court. The Attorney General’s concerns have turned out to be very real.”

“With absolutely no basis in federal law or regulation, the Obama administration promoted a shocking surge in cases where ongoing removal proceedings in immigration court, against admitted illegal aliens, were quietly and indefinitely dropped from the docket,” said IRLI attorney Elizabeth Hohenstein, co-drafter of FAIR’s brief.

“The Obama administration explained away this de facto amnesty as ‘prosecutorial discretion,’” added Hohenstein. “In fact the immigration courts have a full panoply of lawful case management tools that provide flexibility for immigration proceedings when needed. So today we are confronted with this expanding population of illegal aliens living and working in this country with impunity.”

The FAIR brief calls for an immediately halt to administrative closure as a tool for immigration courts, arguing that this practice “has been abused for far too long and the Attorney General should focus on correcting the issues created by this flagrant abuse.”

The case is Matter of Reynaldo Castro-Tum, No. A 206-842-910 (BIA 2018).

For additional information, contact: Brian Lonergan • 202-232-5590 • [email protected]

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