Recently, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the U.S. Department of Justice proposed a rule change to permit immigration appellate judges' rulings to become binding for the entire immigration system.
Should the changes be approved, the 21 judges on the immigration appeals court could set unheard-of precedents. Fewer judges making the decisions for all would allow any changes to be implemented much faster than is currently possible.
The Chronicle noted the appellate board now only allows precedents to be binding when a majority of the permanent immigration judges concur on a matter. The proposed change would only require two judges on a three-panel jury to make those precedents binding for all. A further change is that the attorney general would be the one to determine if those decisions made precedent.
Opponents to the changes insist there is a danger that the current administration will attempt to shift the immigration courts to carry out their political agendas.
This is not the first time such changes have been proposed. Reportedly, the idea arose during the presidency of George W. Bush.
President Trump has even suggested eliminating all immigration judges as well as the asylum system. He stated that "[t]hey have to get rid of the whole asylum system because it doesn't work, and frankly, we should get rid of judges."
It seems that immigration laws and policies will continue to remain in flux in the near future as immigrant's lives hang in the balance. If you are seeking a green card or citizenship here in the United States during these fraught times, it's a good idea to work closely with your immigration law attorney to avoid unnecessary complications.