The Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed a rule that would extend the circumstances in which the Attorney General may refer cases to himself for review. Thus far, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reviewed seven cases already decided by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and issued rulings in five. The proposal would allow him to issue rulings in cases before they get to the BIA.

Rulings by Attorney General Sessions are important because they are considered precedent for immigration judges to follow. In particular, the proposed rule would expand his review power to cases pending before the BIA but not yet decided, and to certain immigration judge decisions irrespective of whether they have been appealed to the BIA. DOJ expects to finalize the measure by March of 2019.

Thomas Saenz, President of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said the move would give the Attorney General too much power. But DOJ Spokesperson Sarah Sutton said that characterization was "absurd and woefully ignorant." Sutton said, "It is widely acknowledged that our immigration system is broken and the Attorney General has been steadfast in his pursuit of a lawful and functional immigration system where all Americans can thrive."

Through his review process, Attorney General Session has already limited when immigration judges can end removal proceedings, strengthened the credible fear standard, directed immigration judges to stop delaying removal cases through administrative closure, and determined asylum-seekers and applicants for withholding of removal do not have a right to a full hearing after their paperwork deems them ineligible for asylum. 

Read more in The Hill.

Updated: Tue, Nov 6th 2018 @ 12:15pm EST