Under the Biden administration, the Justice Department has recently taken aim at a previous Trump administration policy, which restricted judges from the removal of deportation cases from the docket prior to the disposal of the case.
On Thursday, Biden’s AG, Merrick Garland, delivered the Department of Justice’s revised opinion.
Previously, Donald J. Trump’s first AG, Jeff Sessions, had issued an opinion regarding the Matter of Castro-Tum, which ultimately made the determination that no legal authority exists for closing cases regarding deportation without addressing them. In addition, Trump’s Department of Justice also issued a rule based on the opinion of Sessions last December.
However, the Biden administration has now blocked that rule, claiming that the ruling apparently violates the Administrative Procedure Act.
According to Garland, the case of Castro-Tum represented a presumed departure from “long-standing practice,” which means that it is purportedly “appropriate to overrule that opinion in its entirety.” Consequently, administrative closure can be restored “pending the reconsideration fo the 2020 rule through notice-and-comment rule-making.”
Per Garland, this reconsideration will enable all affected stakeholders to have a “fair” and “full” opportunity to “participate” in the process while “[ensuring] that the relevant facts and analysis” are subject to evaluation and collection.
Garland asserted that this move will enable judges to close various deportation-related cases quickly, presumably in order to focus on other more urgent situations.
For instance, this change will assist with “[pausing] cases” during the USCIS’s adjudication of a pending visa petition for a non-citizen. Additionally, this change can also assist in situations wherein a non-citizen is facing removal based upon criminal grounds, as the non-citizen can also pursue recourse through either a “direct appeal or post-conviction relief in criminal court.”
In addition, the new opinion will provide the opportunity for various administration officials to request for judges to remove various deportation-related cases from the current docket, which will purportedly “facilitate the exercise of prosecutorial discretion.”
Garland also argued that the Trump administration did not follow all the proper processes when it enacted the rule during his final month in office, December 2020.
Specifically, Garland claimed that the Department of Justice’s “notice-and-comment” process for rule-making was ignored. However, it is highly unlikely that the current administration will adhere to the proper rule-making process itself in terms of dismissing various deportation-related cases.