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Senator Cortez-Masto and 17 Other Senators Address Attorney General over ICE Intentions to Reopen Admin Closed Cases

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Senator Catherine Cortez-Masto and 17 other U.S. Senators have issued a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, expressing concerns about ICE intentions to re-open and re-calendar 350,000 deportation cases that were administratively closed.

The letter comes as a direct response to Attorney General Sessions decision to strip immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) of their authority to administratively close cases. A decision that will only further increase the tremendous backlog facing the immigration court system.

Administrative closures allow immigration judges to temporarily relieve the number of cases on their docket and allows them to focus their attention on cases that are ready for adjudication. Many respondents whose cases are administratively closed have pending applications for relief with USCIS.

There are currently 730,000 pending cases in the immigration court system. The addition of the administratively closed cases – currently estimated at over 355,000 – will increase the backlog to well over  one million. The Senators argue that Attorney General Session is using his authority to supersede decades of precedent by determining that “immigration judges and the BIA do not have the authority to suspend indefinitely immigration proceedings by administrative closure.”

Senator Cortez-Masto and colleagues posed several questions to the Attorney General over how EOIR and ICE will be handling administratively closed cases, including a time frame for re-opening and how they plan to prioritize or decide which cases are re-opened first. The Senators requested a response in writing before September 27, 2018.

All of the questions and the formal letter can be found here :

https://www.cortezmasto.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Administrative%20Closure%20Letter%20(Cortez%20Masto).pdf

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