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Nicholas Iovino, Courthouse News, Mar. 9, 2021
"A federal judge signaled Tuesday that she will block a series of Trump-era changes to immigration court procedures that critics say make it harder for noncitizens to fight deportation orders. The rule finalized on Dec. 16, 2020, limits immigration judges’ power to stay cases, reopen cases, set briefing schedules and grant extensions. The Trump administration argued the reforms are intended to promote efficiency. Critics say the administration did not consider that the changes could prevent immigrants from obtaining relief they are entitled to pursue under federal law. “I don’t think it’s appropriate to say it’s more efficient this way, even if people are not getting the benefit of relief that Congress provided,” Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Illston said during a virtual hearing. ... In their motion for a preliminary injunction, the legal aid groups argued that multiple commenters stated “they were unable to address the interplay of the rule with other proposals — an issue defendants sidestepped completely.” Judge Illston did not find the limited comment period legally sufficient. “I do believe the 30-day comment period was inadequate and that renders the whole thing arbitrary and capricious,” Illston said. ... The judge added that she found an amicus brief submitted by 37 former immigration law judges particularly illuminating because it helped illustrate some of “real-life consequences” of the rule. The former immigration judges wrote that the rule “makes it more difficult for applicants and defense counsel to brief relevant issues and present evidence, creates new challenges for immigration judges to consider extraordinary changes in circumstances and to control the timing of their own docket, and severely limits the [Board of Immigration Appeals’] authority to make legally sound decisions and remain an apolitical rung in the immigration system.”