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Immigration Law

CA3 on "Something to Review" - Valarezo-Tirado v. A.G.

Valarezo-Tirado v. A.G.

"We have previously granted a petition for review in which the alleged basis for the BIA’s denial of relief was that “the evidence is insufficient” and “the arguments made by the [government] on appeal . . . are persua[sive]” because we could not “perform meaningful review of [such an] order.” Here, we have even less to work with. ...  The most fundamental notion of due process must include an opportunity for meaningful judicial review. We reiterate that “judicial review necessarily requires something to review and, if the agency provides only its result without an explanation of the underlying fact finding and analysis, a court is unable to provide judicial review.” The required review is simply not possible when we are provided with nothing more than the kind of one-line checklist that is relied upon here. We cannot allow an IJ or the BIA to dispense with an adequate explanation of a final decision merely to facilitate or accommodate administrative expediency. Since “the [IJ]’s failure of explanation makes it impossible for us to review its rationale, we [will] grant [Valarezo-Tirado’s] petition for review, vacate the [IJ’s] order, and remand the matter to [the IJ] for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.” ... A 2019 study found that “on average each [immigration] judge currently has an active pending caseload of over two thousand cases.” Nevertheless, we cannot allow incredibly difficult logistics to give license to IJs to skirt their responsibilities. This includes the obligation to inform the petitioner of the reasons for the IJ’s decision and provide an adequate explanation of the decision that does not require us to parse through the testimony in search of evidence that supports it. A two-sentence recitation on a bullet-point form will rarely, if ever, provide sufficient reasoning for a decision. A decision, such as the one here, that does not refer to record evidence will never suffice. Because, here, the IJ’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence, we will vacate the decision and order and remand to the IJ for proceedings consistent with this opinion."

[Hats off to pro bono publico counsel Robert D. Helfand, Charles W. Stotter, John Pitblado, Federico Maciá and Christina Gallo!]