The Unbearable Lightness of BIA-ing

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In an average year, the Board of Immigration Appeals decides over 35,000 cases, but publishes less than 40 decisions. The small number of published decisions provides insufficient guidance to the nation’s Immigration Judges and results in inconsistent rulings between judges. The lack of guidance has also contributed to the dramatic increase in immigration cases heard by the federal courts of appeals. So instead of the law being settled by the BIA–which specializes in immigration–the various appeals courts have been interpreting the law, not always consistent with their sister circuits.

Here is how the numbers break down for the last few years: In 2009, the BIA decided 33,103 cases and published 34 decisions. In 2008, it decided 38,369 cases and published 33 decisions. In 2007, it decided 35,394 cases with 45 published decisions, and in 2006, it decided 41,476 cases and published 26 decisions. So far this year, the Board has published 31 decisions.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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