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Circuit slams immigration appeals board

January 1, 2007
The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago issued an immigration ruling today reiterating a message that the justice department isn't giving asylum cases enough review.

The opinion is one of an already long list of examples where Circuit Courts slam the nation's immigration court system, a mostly administrative process flowing through the U.S. Department of Justice. The 7th Circuit has been especially critical of the system.

In its three-page decision in Hanna Youssef Mekhael v. Michael B. Mukasey, No. 06-4285, opinion author Judge Richard Posner granted review and vacated a ruling from the administrative Board of Immigration.

The case involves a Lebanese citizen who sought asylum and relief here in July 2005 but was denied. That petitioner later asked for the case to be reopened because of new conditions in the home country, but the board denied that request because evidence wasn't persuasive, detailed "ongoing problems in Lebanon," and was available before the initial hearing.

"The Board's reasoning was remarkable, since the petitioner's evidence concerned dramatic, portentous events that had occurred after the administrative record was closed, and so could not have been discovered before the July 2005 hearing," Judge Posner wrote. "... The only ground of our decision is in the Board's failure to articulate a reasoned response to the motion. We understand the Board's staggering workload. But the Department of Justice cannot be permitted to defeat judicial review by refusing to staff the Immigration Court and Board of Immigration Appeals with enough judicial officers to provide reasoned decisions."
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