Under a longstanding practice called “administrative closure,” immigration judges essentially can grant a reprieve to certain undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for many years, who have developed strong family ties in American communities, and who have not committed any serious crimes. Although this practice does not grant any sort of legal status to an immigrant, it does permit him or her to remain in the country and often be eligible to legally work. However, the government can reopen their deportation cases at any time.
One benefit of this practice is that it helps deportation cases move through heavily-backlogged immigration court system more quickly. It also allows the government to focus on immigrants who have committed serious crimes, rather than those who have lived and worked in American without incident for many years. Now, the Trump administration has announced that it will largely eliminate the practice as part of its crackdown on immigration enforcement.
Will Judges Be Allowed to Continue Administratively Closing Certain Deportation Cases?
Trump’s decision to curtail the administrative closure practice, however, like many of his decisions, has unintended consequences. While Attorney General Jeff Sessions has vowed to swiftly reduce the backlog of cases in immigration court, reversing administratively closed cases and eliminating the practice altogether is likely to greatly add to the backlog rather than reduce it. For example, during the last year of Obama administration, immigration judges administratively closed roughly 56,000 cases. On the other hand, during the first year of the Trump administration, immigration judges administratively closed only about 20,000 cases. This is a huge decrease in closures that already is adding to the existing backlog of immigration court cases. Not surprisingly, the immigration court case backlog has grown by about 145,000 cases, or about 27%.
If you or a loved one fears arrest, detention, and deportation on immigration-related grounds, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas immigration attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through the often complex process of immigration court proceedings. Call us today at (512) 359-3362 and schedule an appointment with one of our deportation defense lawyers, and learn how we can assist you.