Tags: Ashcroft | Steps | Deportation | Illegal | Aliens

Ashcroft Steps Up Deportation of Illegal Aliens

Wednesday, 06 February 2002 12:00 AM

Attorneys are filing bogus appeals for deportable aliens to prolong their stay in the United States, he said.

"The backlog gives unscrupulous lawyers the incentive to file frivolous appeals," Ashcroft said at a department news conference announcing rule changes for the board.

The result of such frivolous appeals is that 314,000 aliens have been judged deportable by the board but have disappeared into the U.S. population during those lengthy appeals, he said.

"They have been ordered deported, and yet they have just merged into the American landscape," he added.

The situation has national security implications in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks, according to the attorney general.

"We cannot and we will not allow an administrative bottleneck to threaten our national security," Ashcroft said.

Immigration judges hear 217,000 cases a year, he said. Those cases "move through the trial courts in a timely manner ... [but] the board is broken in several respects."

Besides the backlog, "which gravely undermines enforcement of immigration laws," the board "takes an inordinately long time to resolve cases."

Ashcroft said some of those cases have been going on for seven years. The attorney general said immigration officials were expanding a 1999 pilot project under which simple appeals were sent to one member of the board, not a three-member panel.

From now on, Ashcroft said, most appeals will be judged by one board member.

Cases that would continue to be heard by a three-judge panel would include those with inconsistencies between the rulings of individual immigration judges that have to be resolved, ambiguities in immigration law, matters of national importance, lower-court rulings that are clearly not in conformity with the law, and cases in which fact-finding was clearly erroneous.

The Board of Immigration Appeals will decide legal issues only and will no longer consider factual issues "de novo" - from a fresh start - Ashcroft said, but will rule on the facts only when there is a clearly erroneous finding of fact in the court below.

That puts the board on a par with federal appeals courts, he said.

Under the new rule changes, a single board member will have 90 days in which to decide a case or refer it to a three-member panel. The three-member panel will have 180 days to review the case and hand down a decision.

Ashcroft said the board, which had swelled to 23 members, will be trimmed back to 11.

The rule changes will save up to $30 million a year, according to Ashcroft. The changes will be applied over a six-month transition period.

The new regulations will be published in the Federal Register next week and are expected to go into effect in April.

Copyright 2002 by United Press International.

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Attorneys are filing bogus appeals for deportable aliens to prolong their stay in the United States, he said. The backlog gives unscrupulous lawyers the incentive to file frivolous appeals, Ashcroft said at a department news conference announcing rule changes for the...
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2002-00-06
Wednesday, 06 February 2002 12:00 AM
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