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ABA: Seeking Meaningful Review: Findings and Recommendations in Response to Dorsey & Whitney Study of Board of Immigration Appeals Procedural Reforms

  • Organization: American Bar Association
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Wednesday, October 01, 2003
  • Submitted: Tuesday, November 01, 2005
  • Attachment(s): PDF
With the expressed intent to eliminate a backlog of cases, the Department of Justice proposed a series of "Procedural Reforms" for the Board of Immigration Appeals in the early 2002. Even before those reforms were formally adopted, the Board altered its practices and issued thousands of single-member decisions, most of them affirmances without opinion. A study conducted at the ABA's request by the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney reveals that the quality, as well as the quantity, of the decisions was affected. Before these changes were instituted, 1 in 4 appeals were granted: now only 1 in 10 are, with profound consequences for immigrants and their families. The number of BIA decisions being appealed to the federal courts also has increased from 5% in 2001 to 15% in 2002. Rather than truly eliminating the backlog of cases, the reforms appear to have instead shifted the burden to the federal courts. Having an efficient system is important, but it must not be at the cost of transparent, meaningful review. The Procedural Reforms should be eliminated, or, at a minimum, modified to ensure that quantity is not valued over quality.

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