Attorney General Eric Holder today vacated an order issued by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey’s in his final days in office that had greatly narrowed the appeals rights of immigrants.
Mukasey’s Jan. 7 order in Matter of Compean overturned Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) precedent and procedures by preventing immigration applicants from appealing rulings based on claims of ineffective counsel. The Mukasey order, issued without the usual public comment period for federal rules, caused an uproar in the immigration bar, especially given the crisis of crooked and/or incompetent immigration lawyers who prey on clients.
The American Immigration Law Foundation sent this letter in February asking Holder to reconsider Mukasey’s ruling. It was signed by more than 130 organizations, law firms, and individuals. The letter said Mukasey “improperly reached for and decided a constitutional question in Compean.”
The letter also said:
In Compean, the outgoing Attorney General employed a rarely used procedural device and after an expedited briefing schedule, issued this sweeping decision rejecting the right to counsel and finding that there is no right to remedy ineffective assistance of counsel. The decision overrules decades of precedential decisions from the Board of Immigration Appeals and disagrees with numerous courts of appeals on an issue of great national significance.
Below is Holder’s statement, from the DOJ news release:
The integrity of immigration proceedings depends in part on the ability to assert claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, and the Department of Justice’s rulemaking in this area will be fair, it will be transparent, and it will be guided by our commitment to the rule of law. It is important that the American people have the opportunity to participate in formulating our procedures in this area, and this new process will ensure they do.