Attorney General William Barr recently took an unusual step to expand his authority to change immigration law vastly. Barr resurrected an 11-year-old proposed regulation and made it final within 60 days without any opportunity for the public comment. Typically, a set period of notice and comment occurs before a federal government agency publishes a final rule or regulation. Under this rule, the Attorney General immediately can declare any Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) decisions as precedent binding on immigration judges, without being subject to any checks and balances or utilizing the standard procedures. The regulation was proposed during the George W. Bush administration, but it was never finalized until the current administration suddenly revived it.
According to critics, the finalization of this rule has allowed the Department of Justice (DOJ) to continue to strip immigration judges of their decision-making power and attempt to influence their decisions. The rule also has reignited a call for the immigration court system to operate independently from the DOJ.
Barr’s first significant power grab since taking office is highly reminiscent of the tactics of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The former AG took various steps to limit the rights and due process of immigrants to remain in the country as much as possible. This rule essentially allows Barr to make immigration court decisions himself and exercise control over how immigration judges make decisions in immigration cases.
Under current law, immigrants who wish to challenge further the decisions made by immigration judges must appeal those decisions to the BIA. The BIA then decides those appeals, but their decisions remain unpublished unless a majority of the 21-member BIA opts to publish them as precedent for the immigration courts below. Typically, the BIA publishes only about 30 decisions per year. Under the new rule, however, the Attorney General will be able to declare a particular decision to be precedent on his own, which obligates the immigration courts to follow the decision.
Whatever your situation may be, you will need skilled legal assistance to work toward a resolution of your immigration matter. The Texas immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland know how to help you navigate through the maze of immigration forms, regulations, and policies, and get the relief that you need. Take the first step today and secure the future of your family in the U.S. Contact our office today at and set up an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Texas immigration lawyers.