Newly Proposed Appellate Rule Would Overturn Trump-era Restrictions for Immigration Judges and Codify Judicial Discretion

September 8, 2023

Washington, D.C.On Thursday, the Biden administration proposed to rescind a Trump administration rule that stripped authority from immigration judges to manage their own dockets, eliminated multiple procedural protections for immigrants, and sped up deportations. Beyond rolling back the previous administration’s rule, the new rule protects immigration judges from future administrations which may seek to limit their authority to “administratively close” cases in certain circumstances, helping judges to regain control of a ballooning backlog. 

In September 2020, the American Immigration Council and the American Immigration Lawyers Association, through their joint initiative the Immigration Justice Campaign, submitted a comment in opposition to the Trump administration’s proposed rule, detailing the ways in which it would harm access to counsel. The 2020 rule sped up briefing schedules and times for appeal—cutting out critical days and weeks that are often needed to secure a lawyer.   

The following statement is from Aaron Reichlin Melnick, director of policy at the American Immigration Council.   

This new proposed rule would restore much-needed discretionary authority to immigration judges and erase a last-ditch effort by the Trump administration to turn immigration courts into deportation assembly lines. The rule also fortifies immigration judges against future attempts to limit their authority by codifying a number of longstanding immigration court procedures which Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and Bill Barr had previously sought to eliminate. We applaud this direction and hope that the Biden administration continues to use the regulatory process to protect due process and access to counsel in immigration court.” 


Brianna Dimas at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7557.

The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change—litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. In January 2022, the Council and New American Economy merged to combine a broad suite of advocacy tools to better expand and protect the rights of immigrants, more fully ensure immigrants’ ability to succeed economically, and help make the communities they settle in more welcoming. Follow the latest Council news and information on and Twitter @immcouncil. 

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