Kevin Penton reports for Law360:

“Law360, New York (January 5, 2018, 9:27 PM EST) — The Board of Immigration Appeals has vacated an immigration judge’s denials of a Salvadoran native’s bids to secure asylum and to duck deportation, after finding that the judge used “hostile and bullying behavior” toward the individual’s attorney.

The BIA wants a different judge to review the case, essentially from scratch, after finding that the Immigration Judge Quynh V. Bain “screamed” at the lawyer for more than five minutes, mimicked her voice, called her “several disrespectful names,” said she was “unprofessional” and refused to allow a recess…”


Those with complete Law360 access can read Penton’s full story at the link. Kudos to the BIA for “stepping up” to stop such abuses and protect due process!

Surprisingly, and sadly, Judge Quynh V. Bain is one of my former colleagues at the U.S. Immigration Court in Arlington, Virginia. The Arlington Immigration Court generally has had a well-deserved reputation for fairness, professionalism, respect, teamwork, and unfailing courtesy. In other words, it’s always been a court where lawyers on both sides enjoy practicing. Indeed, it often serves as a “training court” for student attorneys, interns, new Assistant Chief Counsel, and newly appointed U.S. Immigration Judges. So, I’d have to assume that this was an aberration in the context of Arlington.

Nevertheless, given the high stress levels that U.S. Immigration Judges are already working under, the plans of Attorney General Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions to “torque up” the pressure on Immigration Judges to turn our final orders of removal without much, if any regard, for due process, the counter-pressure from the U.S. Courts of Appeals for Immigration Courts to function like “real” courts, the many newly appointed inexperienced Immigration Judges, and the lack of meaningful training for Immigration Judges, I would expect such incidents to increase in the future. Just another reason why it’s past time for an independent Article I U.S. immigration Court!

Changing to the topic of Law360, one of my favorite “immigration beat” reporters, Allissa Wickham (a/k/a the fabulous “AWick”) tells me that she has left Law360 for a “new gig” with HBO, working on a show featuring Wyatt Cenac (formerly of the “Daily Show”). The show is scheduled to air this spring. Allissa says that she will continue to do original reporting, so hopefully at least some immigration topics will find their way into her “portfolio.” Good luck Allissa, and thanks for all of your great immigration reporting, clear writing, and many contributions while at Law360!








Allissa Wickham @ Law 360 Reports That DACA Is Alive & Well — At Least For Now!

Over 120K DACA Applicants Approved So Far This Year

Law360, New York (June 9, 2017, 8:34 PM EDT) — More than 120,000 applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals were approved in the first three months of this year, according to government statistics released Thursday, with the development coming as the Trump administration continues to hold off on making changes to the program.

From January to March, 124,799 DACA cases were approved, according to data from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, with 17,275 initial applications and 107,524 renewals.

The data isn’t broken down on a month-by-month basis, and a USCIS representative told Law360 that the…

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Alas, if you wish to read more from the fabulous “AWick,” you’ll need to be a subscriber to Law 360. But, you get the idea.

Law360: U.S. Solicitor General — Plum Or Lemon?

Andrew Strickler at Law 360 suggests that what was once Washington’s “best legal job” might now be a “career ender” rather than a “career enhancer.” Still, probably a far cry from being the Commissioner of the “Legacy Immigration and Naturalization Service,” sometimes described as “the worst Presidential appointment in Government.”

Those of you who subscribe to Law 360 (I don’t, so all I read was the “teaser”) can read the full article here:



Judge Edward F. Kelly Was Just Appointed To The “High Court Of Immigration” — Who Knew?

The answer is that “almost nobody knew” outside of the insular “tower” world of EOIR Headquarters in Falls Church, VA. It took some super sleuthing by ace Legal Reporter Allissa Wickham over at Law 360 to smoke this one out.

With a little help from her friends, the fabulous “AWick” came upon Judge Kelly’s name in the Roster of Board Members in The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) Online Practice Manual. (As the BIA Practice Manual was instituted during my tenure as BIA Chair, I’m gratified that someone out there is actually reading it.)

Armed with that tidbit of information, AWick was able to get confirmation of Judge Kelly’s appointment from EOIR spokesperson Kathryn Mattingly on Friday evening. Interestingly, Judge Kelly’s biography no longer appears in the online listing for the Office of Chief Immigration Judge, where he had served for a number of years as a Deputy Chief Immigration Judge. Nor has his name or biography appeared under the online listing for the BIA. In other words, Judge Kelly is somewhat “lost in EOIR space” — close to being a bureaucratic “non-person.”

For those who don’t know, the BIA is the highest administrative tribunal in the filed of immigration.  With an authorized membership of 16 Appellate Immigration Judges (Judge Kelly became #15, leaving one vacancy), the BIA received more than 29,000 cases and completed more than 34,000 cases in FY 2015 and had nearly 17,000 pending at the end of that year. By comparison, for the same period, the U.S. Supreme Court received 6,475 cases and took only 81 for oral argument.

The Board also issues nationwide precedents that are binding on the U.S. Immigration Courts and the DHS. Although a part of the Executive, not the Judicial Branch, the BIA effectively occupies a position in our justice system just below that of a U.S. Court of Appeals.

Moreover, as I have pointed out in other blogs, because of the idiosyncrasies of the Supreme Court’s so called “Chevron doctrine,” the Courts of Appeals actually are required to “defer” to the BIA’s interpretation of ambiguous questions of law. Indeed, under the Supreme Court’s remarkable “Brand X doctrine” (“Chevron on steroids”) under some circumstances the BIA can reject the legal reasoning of a Court of Appeals and apply its own interpretation instead.

In other words, notwithstanding their rather cloistered existence, and attempt to remain “below the radar screen,” BIA Appellate Immigration Judges are some of the most powerful judges in the entire Federal Justice system. That makes the lack of publicity about Judge Kelly’s elevation to the appellate bench even more curious.

For those who don’t know him, Judge Kelly started moving “up the ladder” at EOIR when I appointed him to a newly created staff supervisory position at the BIA in the mid-1990s. He was selected because of his reputation for fairness, scholarship, strong writing, collegiality, and ability to teach and inspire others. In other staff positions at the BIA, Judge Kelly became a master of understanding, explaining, and recommending improvements to the case management system. I believe it was those skills and understanding of the mechanics of the Immigration Court System that made him rise to a Deputy Chief Judge position within the Office of Chief Immigration Judge in Falls Church.

Judge Kelly was at the BIA in the late 1990s when the EOIR Executive Group developed the “EOIR Vision” of “through teamwork and innovation, being the world’s best administrative tribunals, guaranteeing fairness and due process for all.” Although over the years, Department of Justice and EOIR management have essentially downplayed and moved away from any public expression or reinforcement of this noble vision, I’m confident that Judge Kelly remains committed to the due process mission we all embarked upon together several decades ago.

From his prior vantage point as a Deputy Chief Immigration Judge, Judge Kelly saw first-hand the docket and due process disaster caused by the DOJ’s politicized meddling in the daily case management practices of the U.S. Immigration Courts over the past several years. He also witnessed the general failure of the BIA to step up and stand up for the due process rights of individuals being hustled through the system with neither lawyers nor any realistic chance of effectively presenting their claims for potential life saving protection.

I hope that as the “new Appellate Immigration Judge on the block,” Judge Kelly will bring a forceful voice for due process and fairness to his colleagues’ deliberations. By doing so, perhaps he can persuade them to face and address some of the important due process and fairness issues in the Immigration Courts that they have been avoiding.

Judge Kelly’s professional bio (taken from his appointment as Deputy Chief Judge, in the absence of a formal announcement from DOJ/EOIR) is reprinted here:

“FALLS CHURCH, Va. – The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) today announced the appointment of a second deputy chief immigration judge (DCIJ). Effective March 10, 2013, Assistant Chief Immigration Judge (ACIJ) Edward F. Kelly will become a DCIJ. Judge Kelly will assume direct supervision of the program components in the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge (OCIJ), including the legal unit, the language service unit, the organizational results unit, the chief clerk, and the executive officer.

“Judge Kelly’s appointment as deputy chief immigration judge is in recognition of his tremendous contributions to OCIJ’s efficiencies and services,” said Chief Immigration Judge Brian M. O’Leary. “With his expanded role, I am confident OCIJ will continue to improve our operations and inspire our staff.”

Biographical information follows:

Attorney General Holder appointed Judge Kelly as an ACIJ in March 2011. He received a bachelor of arts degree in 1982 and a juris doctorate in 1987, both from the University of Notre Dame. From November 2009 to March 2011, Judge Kelly served as senior counsel and chief of staff for OCIJ. From 2007 to 2009, he was counsel for operations for OCIJ at EOIR. From 1998 to 2007, Judge Kelly was a senior legal advisor for the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), EOIR. From 1995 to 1998, he served as a supervisory attorney and team leader for the BIA. From 1989 to 1993 and again from 1994 to 1995, Judge Kelly was an attorney advisor for the BIA. From 1987 to 1989, he served as an assistant counsel, Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and International Law, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. From 1982 to 1984, he served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Gabon, Africa. Judge Kelly is a member of the Virginia State Bar.”

Perhaps, eventually, EOIR will announce Judge Kelly’s appointment. Who knows?

Additionally, those of you with full Law 360 access (which I don’t have) can read AWick’s full article at the Lexis link below.