Washington Watch

Posted on: August 27th, 2018
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Attorney General Issues Decision Regarding Immigration Judges’ Granting of Continuances of Removal Proceedings

Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a decision in Matter of L-A-B-R et al. in which he addressed the growing number of continuances issued in removal proceedings and dictated the manner in which such continuances should be utilized. Though the Attorney General admitted that continuances are valuable resources for immigration judges, he cited a significant increase in continuances granted over the past decade to justify his guidance for their utilization.

The Attorney General restricted the utilization of continuances of removal proceedings only in instances in which “good cause” is shown. This good-cause standard places restrictions upon the discretion with witch immigration judges are allowed to exercise their ability to grant continuances. Specifically, the Attorney General prohibited immigration judges from granting continuances for any reason deemed not be “for good cause,” or from granting continuances for no reason at all. The decision mandates immigration judges assess an alien’s request for continuance more carefully if the request is pursuant to collateral relief from another authority, such as the Department of Homeland Security. The primary determining factor when deciding whether to grant a continuation, as dictated by the Attorney General, is whether that collateral relief will be granted, which will materially affect the outcome of the removal proceedings. After this is considered, the immigration judge is instructed to weigh pertinent secondary factors, including the respondent’s diligence in seeking collateral relief, the Department of Homeland Security’s opinion regarding the motion for continuance, concerns of administrative efficiency, the duration of the continuance requested, the number of hearings held as well as the number of continuances previously granted, and the timing of the continuance motion.

The decision was widely criticized by former immigration judges as well as the immigration bar.

For more information, view the full decision.

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