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Immigration Court Jurisdiction

Immigration Court Jurisdiction

Immigration judges have the initial jurisdiction in the removability of immigrants.  That is to say, the decision rendered by the immigration judge in an immigration court is final, barring an appeal approved by the Board of Immigration Appeals.  However, in immigration law there are many important decisions:

 

Make decisions regarding the removability, deportability

 

Adjudicate immigration applications for relief from removal or deportation, such as asylum

 

Review fear determinations made by the Department of Homeland Security

 

Make decisions in rescission of departure control and adjustment of status cases

 

Conduct review proceedings and custody hearings, as well as bond re-determination proceedings

 

Take actions consistent with immigration laws such as pre-hearing conferences and issuing subpoenas

 

This jurisdiction is governed and moderated by the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, which is responsible for the overall supervision of immigration judges.  The judges may also conduct disciplinary proceedings pertaining to accredited representatives such as immigration attorneys.

Leocal v. Ashcroft

Leocal v. Ashcroft

The Supreme Court sought to examine the crime of DUI under Florida law, and how it applied to immigration law. Under Florida law, DUI has no mens rea element. That is, it does not require the defendant to have a level of intent to commit the crime. The court determined that DUI does not in fact entail a substantial risk that physical force will be used, making it a non-violent crime.

 

As a result, the Court decided that Leocal's crime was not means for a deportation order, and he was let free. The decision was reinforced by the fact that Congress explicitly distinguished crimes of violence and DUI crimes. The negligent nature of a DUI crime is different from a crime of violence, because it does not require proof of a mental state.

Immigration Court Back Ups

Immigration Court Back Ups

The Bush administration increased the number of cases by hiring new immigration agents and increasing raids in factories and certain communities.  This brought the case count up to over 350,000, a record number.

 

An immigration judge generally shares a law clerk with up to three other judges, as opposed to federal district judges, who each are assigned more than one clerk.

 

There are under 250 immigration judges.  This number has barely changed despite a call by Former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to hire 40 new judges.  

 

Immigration judges are overworked, each handling an estimated 69 hearings a week.  Even so, over 180,000 cases were still pending at the end of 2008, another record number.

 

The backlog of the nation's immigration costs have left thousands of immigrants questioning their removability from the United States, with some delays lasting up to 5 years.  

Flores Figueroa v. United States

Flores Figueroa v. United States

 

Ignacio Flores-Figueroa was an illegal alien from Mexico living the United States. He was convicted of two cases of aggravated identify theft 

 

The case was brought to the Supreme Court, where they determined that Flores-Figueroa's argument was valid. They determined that the government must prove the mens rea requirement of identify theft, that is that the government must prove that the defendant "knowingly" used another person's identify (in this case, Social Security Number and alien registration number) to constitute an aggravated felony 

 

The case is particularly interesting in immigration law due to the common use of fake identification for illegal aliens. It also proves that immigration law, while its own entity, affects other aspects of law as well. Criminal law, in this case identify theft law, is impacted by immigration law. The decision showed that the modifier "knowingly" should apply to all elements of a crime, as determined by ordinary grammatical rules. This case also brings up another point related to the mens rea requirement.

 

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a separate opinion stating that the Court should distinguish between cases using the mens rea requirement when Congress has not addressed it in language and cases where Congress as purposely limited the requirement for specific elements of a crime. Additionally, it affirmed that the mens rea requirement of a federal statute should apply to every element of the crime. In immigration law, the decisions distinguished between identify theft and the use of fake identification. 

 

According to the Supreme Court, prosecutors could no longer use federal identify-theft law against illegal workers utilizing fake Social Security numbers. The removal of this particular weapon is important in immigration law because it would make immigration enforcement change their strategy in pressing criminal charges against immigrants guilty only of working illegally.

Immigration Court

Immigration Court

General Information

 

Review fear determinations made by the Department of Homeland Security

 

Make decisions in rescission of departure control and adjustment of status cases

 

Conduct review proceedings and custody hearings, as well as bond re-determination proceedings

 

Take actions consistent with immigration laws such as pre-hearing conferences and issuing subpoenas

 

These authorities are moderated by the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, which is responsible for the supervision of immigration judges.  The judges may also have authority to conduct disciplinary proceedings for representatives such as attorney, administer the oath of citizenship, and conduct removal proceedings of the Office of Special Investigations. 

 

While an immigration court judge has jurisdiction to make final decisions regarding the removability or deportability of immigrants, their decision can be appealed to or certified by the Board of Immigration Appeals.  If the case is further appealed, it reaches the jurisdiction of the United States Courts of Appeals and, eventually, the United States Supreme Court.