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Fair Procedures in Immigration Court

Last Updated: 
Thu, Dec 10, 2015

For far too long, immigration courts have failed to provide a fair, efficient and effective system of justice for noncitizens in this country. Through advocacy and litigation, the American Immigration Council works to ensure all noncitizens have a meaningful opportunity to be heard. The Council also has issued a number of practice advisories regarding immigration court and Board of Immigration Appeals procedures.



Immigration Judges’ Duty to Develop the Record

In re C-C-C- (BIA amicus brief filed Aug. 17, 2015): The Council submitted an amicus brief arguing that immigration judges’ duty to develop the record is particularly important in pro se litigants’ cases, and that this duty requires immigration judges to provide noncitizens with information about the types of relief they are seeking and to actively elicit relevant information.

Pro Se Waivers of Appeal

Romero-Escobar v. Holder (9th Cir. amicus brief in support of petition for rehearing filed Apr. 16, 2015): The Council and the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild submitted an amicus brief in support of rehearing addressing immigration judges’ duty, in pro se cases, to fully inform litigants of the consequences of their legal decisions and to ensure that any waivers of appeal are knowing and intelligent. The Ninth Circuit denied the petition for rehearing in a non-precedent decision.

Group Hearings

Verde-Rodriguez v. Attorney General (3d Cir. amicus brief to petition for rehearing filed Nov. 7, 2013): The Council and the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project submitted an amicus brief in support of rehearing addressing pro se litigants’ lack of a meaningful opportunity to be heard in group immigration hearings. The Third Circuit denied the petition for rehearing in a non-precedent decision.

Timeliness of BIA Appeal

Liadov v. Mukasey (8th Cir. amicus brief filed Dec. 13, 2006) The Council and AILA submitted an amicus brief arguing that the Board has the authority to consider late-filed appeals in unique circumstances and that failure of a guaranteed overnight delivery service to deliver an appeal on time should constitute such a “unique” circumstance. In a precedent decision, Liadov v. Mukasey, 518 F.3d 1003 (8th Cir. 2008), the court denied the petition for review.


The Council regularly submits comments, letters and testimony to administrative agencies and Congress advocating for fairer and more efficient immigration court procedures, including:

  • Comments from the Council and AILA to the Department of Justice/Executive Office for Immigration Review regarding the “Retrospective Regulatory Review” (Nov. 27, 2012). Pertaining to regulations on motions to reopen, stays of removal, bond hearings, telephonic and video hearings, filing and service of documents and decisions, and stipulated removal orders.
  • Comments on the Immigration Adjudication Draft Report by the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) (February 13, 2012). Addressing representation, stipulated removal orders , prosecutorial discretion, video hearings, and the asylum clock.
  • Testimony submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee for May 18, 2011 hearing, “Improving Efficiency and Ensuring Justice in the Immigration Court System.”
  • Letter to the Department of Justice in response to request for comments regarding the Department’s review of its existing regulations (March 31, 2011). Regarding the departure bar to motions to reopen, ineffective assistance of counsel, fair removal procedures for noncitizens with mental disabilities, and asylum clock problems.
  • Comments on the Executive Office for Immigration Review’s proposed rule on streamlining BIA cases (Aug. 18, 2008).


The Council has issued several practice advisories addressing various aspects of immigration court and BIA procedures, available here.

Fact sheets and reports:

Blog posts on Immigration Impact, including: