Professional Conduct for Practitioners-Rules and Procedures, and Representation and Appearances
This final rule adopts, in part, the proposed changes to the rules and procedures concerning the standards of representation and professional conduct for practitioners who appear before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), which includes the immigration judges and the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board). It also clarifies who is authorized to represent and appear on behalf of individuals in proceedings before the Board and the immigration judges. Current regulations set forth who may represent individuals in proceedings before EOIR and also set forth the rules and procedures for imposing disciplinary sanctions against practitioners who engage in criminal, unethical, or unprofessional conduct, or in frivolous behavior before EOIR. The final rule increases the number of grounds for discipline, improves the clarity and uniformity of the existing rules, and incorporates miscellaneous technical and procedural changes. The changes herein are based upon the Attorney General's initiative for improving the adjudicatory processes for the immigration judges and the Board, as well as EOIR's operational experience in administering the disciplinary program since the current process was established in 2000.
Voluntary Departure: Effect of a Motion To Reopen or Reconsider or a Petition for Review
The Department of Justice is publishing this final rule to amend the regulations regarding voluntary departure. This rule adopts, without substantial change, the proposed rule under which a grant of voluntary departure is automatically withdrawn upon the filing of a motion to reopen or reconsider with the immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board) or a petition for review in a federal court of appeals. This final rule adopts, with some modification, the proposed rule under which an immigration judge will set a presumptive civil monetary penalty of $3,000 if the alien fails to depart within the time allowed. However, this rule adopts only in part the proposals to amend the provisions relating to the voluntary departure bond. Finally, this rule adopts the notice advisals in the proposed rule and incorporates additional notice requirements in light of public comments.
Board of Immigration Appeals: Affirmance Without Opinion, Referral for Panel Review, and Publication of Decisions as Precedents
This proposed rule would amend the Department of Justice (Department) regulations regarding the administrative review procedures of the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board) in three ways. First, this rule provides greater flexibility for the Board to decide, in the exercise of its discretion, whether to issue an affirmance without opinion (AWO) or any other type of decision. This rule clarifies that the criteria the Board uses in deciding to invoke its AWO authority are solely for its own internal guidance, and that the Board's decision depends on the Board's judgment regarding its resources and is not reviewable. The revision related to AWO is needed to address divergent precedent in the United States Courts of Appeals regarding the reviewability of the Board's decision to issue an AWO. Finally, this revision clarifies that when the Board issues an AWO or a short decision adopting some or all of the immigration judge's decision, the decision is generally based on issues and claims of errors raised on appeal and is not to be construed as waiving a party's obligation to raise issues and exhaust claims of error before the Board. Second, this rule expands the authority to refer cases for three-member panel review for a small class of particularly complex cases involving complex or unusual issues of law or fact. Third, this rule amends the regulations relating to precedent decisions of the Board by authorizing publication of decisions either by a majority of the panel members or by a majority of permanent Board members and clarifying the relevant considerations for designation of precedents. These revisions implement, in part, the Memorandum for Immigration Judges and Members of the Board of Immigration Appeals issued by the Attorney General on August 9, 2006.
Board of Immigration Appeals: Composition of Board and Temporary Board Members
This final rule adopts without change an interim rule with request for comments published in the Federal Register on December 7, 2006. The interim rule amended the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) regulations relating to the organization of the Board of Immigration Appeals (Board) by adding four Board member positions, thereby expanding the Board to 15 members. This rule also expanded the list of persons eligible to serve as temporary Board members to include senior EOIR attorneys with at least ten years of experience in the field of immigration law.
Inflation Adjustment for Civil Monetary Penalties Under Sections 274A, 274B, and 274C of the Immigration and Nationality Act
As required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice are publishing these rules adjusting for inflation the civil monetary penalties assessed or enforced by those two Departments under sections 274A, 274B, and 274C of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The adjusted civil money penalties are calculated according to the specific formula laid out by law, and will be effective for violations occurring on or after the effective date of these rules.