In Matter of Coronado-Acevedo, 28 I&N Dec. 648 (A.G. 2022), Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed that immigration judges did have the authority to terminate cases before them under certain circumstances.
This clarified the issue that immigration judges have authority to terminate cases under such circumstances with or without the concurrence of the DHS.
This is a very important decision, because it dovetails with the overruling of a particularly limiting case, Matter of Castro-Tum, 27 I&N Dec. 271 (A.G. 2018) [which prevented immigration judges from terminating immigration proceedings]. In Castro-Tum, Attorney General Sessions determined that immigration judges and the Board have no general authority to administratively close cases, or, for that matter, to terminate cases.
In Coronado-Acevedo, Attorney General Garland reversed the Board’s decision in Matter of S-O-G- and F-D-B-, 27 I&N Dec. 462 (A.G. 2018), which expressly stated that immigration judges did not have the authority to terminate or dismiss removal proceedings.
While Attorney General Garland had already overruled Matter of Castro-Tum in 2021, and thereby allowed immigration judges to administratively close proceedings, other than in circuits where it was not permitted, or limited by law (for example, the Sixth Circuit), in Matter of Coronado-Acevedo, Attorney General Garland also overruled the board’s prior decision in Matter of S-O-G- and Matter of F-D-B-, and declared that immigration judges did have the authority to terminate or dismiss removal proceedings.
However, this authority is not carte blanche, but has been circumscribed by the Attorney General to limiting cases arising out of three fact patterns:
- Where a non-citizen has obtained lawful permanent residence after being placed in removal proceedings; (this applies to, for example undocumented alien children, who must have their cases adjudicated by the USCIS, and over whose adjustment of status applications the immigration court has no authority);
- Whether pendency of removal proceedings causes adverse immigration consequences for a respondent who must travel abroad to seek a visa (think, beneficiaries of approved I601A petitions);
- Where termination is necessary for a respondent to be eligible to seek immigration relief before the USCIS (consider, for example, the beneficiary of a family-based petition, who entered the country legally, and would therefore be eligible for adjustment of status).
Therefore, Matter of Coronado-Acevedo is a very significant immigration decision which could result in substantial immigration relief for aliens who find themselves in one of the above three categories.
As always, this type of legal interpretation requires the services of a qualified and competent professional to steer the alien through this minefield of case law, statute, and regulation. It is highly advisable that any alien who thinks or considers themselves to be in this situation consult a qualified immigration attorney for detailed analysis based along the lines set forth above.
© Farhad Sethna, Attorney, 2022
Farhad Sethna has practiced law for over 25 years. He was awarded his JD in 1990 and his MBA in 1991, both from the University of Akron. Since 1996, he has also been an adjunct professor of Immigration Law at the University of Akron, School of Law, in Akron, Ohio, where he wrote and continues to use his own immigration textbook. Attorney Sethna is a frequent speaker at Continuing Legal Education and professional development seminars on various immigration-related topics. His practice is limited to immigration and small business. He has won awards for excellence in teaching and for pro-bono service. With offices in Cuyahoga Falls, Akron and New Philadelphia, Ohio, Attorney Sethna represents clients in all types of immigration cases before federal agencies and the immigration courts nationwide. A private pilot, it is Farhad’s goal to fly to each of Ohio’s 88 county airports. Our number is: (330) 384-8000. Please send your general immigration questions to AttorneySethna@immigration-america.com. We will try to answer as many questions as possible.