AG Jeff Sessions Should Recuse Himself From the Immigration Case He Referred to Himself

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Using a rarely used federal Law, the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions took the highly unusual step of referring an immigration case to himself.

The Rarely Used Federal Law Allows Sessions to Override U.S. Immigration Court Decisions

The highly unusual procedure is being carefully examined by immigration attorneys, judges and immigrant rights groups. The federal law utilized allows Sessions to reconsider cases decided by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), the United States' highest administrative body for interpreting and applying U.S. immigration laws.

The Castro-Tum case that Jeff Sessions referred to himself was administratively closed by a U.S. immigration judge.

Sessions is seeking to unilaterally eliminate administrative closure

Jeff Sessions' has publicly stated he is looking to unilaterally eliminate administrative closures. As U.S. Attorney General, his decision would be binding on all U.S. immigration courts. Eliminating administrative closure would create a path for immigrants to be prematurely & unlawfully deported. There are an estimated 350,000 cases that have been administratively closed. Prestigious former BIA board members and immigration judges have filed a brief forcefully explaining that Jeff Sessions does not have a legal basis to eliminate administrative closures.

Brief Explains Since Sessions is not Impartial, He Cannot Lawfully Decide Immigration Cases

The American Immigration Council and five other immigrant rights organizations have also filed an amicus brief arguing that Jeff Sessions is clearly unfit to make these important decisions. Their brief makes the case by highlighting that Sessions decided to apply the full power of the attorney general’s office to bear against a particularly vulnerable individual. The young man in the Castro-Tum case was placed in removal as a minor and has never been represented by an immigration attorney.

The brief outlines Sessions’ many public statements demonstrating he is unfit to be a neutral decision maker. The organizations argue that due process under the U.S constitution “requires a neutral decisionmaker in immigration proceedings,” and that the following categories of statements by Sessions disqualify him from deciding the case:

  1. Sessions' public statements that he already decided to end administration closure before referring Castro-Tum to himself.
  2. His many derogatory public statements about foreign citizens who don’t meet his standards, or whose family relationships provide the basis for immigration status.
  3. His many public statements espousing a bias toward unaccompanied children like Castro-Tum.

The Attorney General Must Meet the Same Standards as Judges

If a BIA member or immigration judge were to publicly espouse biases like Sessions, the amicus brief argues that Federal courts would vacate any ensuing removal order and find that the judge violated constitutional due process and lacked the impartiality required. The brief also highlights that Sessions is not above the law and, if he wishes to refer cases to himself, must meet the same standards as the Department of Justice judges he oversees.

Since Sessions Cannot be an Impartial Judge, He Must Recuse Himself and Let Impartial Judges Decide Immigration Cases