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Federal appeals court tells parties to look at deportation cases for discretion

A federal court of appeals apparently is fed up with the backlog of immigration cases that has been hitting its docket. The appellate court says that it is imposing a halt on deportation appeals to give prosecutors and other parties time to look over the cases in the hopes the parties will reach settlement agreements. The appellate court hopes that the parties will be able to reach an agreement to have the cases resolved before the Board of Immigration Appeals instead of pursuing the cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

While the new 90-day halt only affects cases before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the unique stance has caught the attention of many people across the country. The second circuit court is often regarded as a highly influential court in the federal system. Florida is located in the 11th Circuit and is not subject under the court order.

The court says that it is tolling removal cases in an effort to get more cases to settle. The court believes that some of the cases may be dropped and is giving the parties time to determine whether the parties want to continue to pursue the deportation proceedings.

The court decided to make the temporary change in procedure after U.S. immigration officials began a new policy of how it handles cases. Immigration authorities reportedly changed their focus on cases on how removal proceedings should be prioritized.

The change in immigration policy, often referred to as immigration's use of prosecutorial discretion, has caused issues in the court system on cases that have been pending for some time. This blog has previously discussed issues regarding removal proceedings and the government's use of prosecutorial discretion.

Generally cases may flow into the federal appellate courts during the appellate process. After an immigration judge orders a deportation, the case can be appealed to the immigration appeals board before the case is appealed to the federal appellate courts.

The halt is not prompting any new type of prosecutorial discretion policy, according to immigration officials. The appellate court says that it is ordering the 90-day halt, essentially to allow the cases and policies to catch up with each other. The federal appellate judges say that an immigrant can still seek reinstatement of the appellate proceeding, without added fees or new legal briefs.

Source: Thomson Reuters News and Insight, "2nd Circuit sets new rules for immigration cases," Oct. 19, 2012

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