The Biden administration's Justice Department has overturned a Trump administration restriction on judges removing a deportation case from the docket without disposing of the case.
Attorney General Merrick Garland delivered the revised opinion for the DOJ on Thursday.
Former President Donald Trump's first AG Jeff Sessions issued an opinion in the Matter of Castro-Tum, which determined there is no legal authority to close a deportation case without addressing it, and the Trump DOJ issued a rule on Sessions' opinion in December 2020.
But the Biden administration blocked that rule being instituted on the grounds it violated the Administrative Procedure Act.
"Because Castro-Tum departed from long-standing practice, it is appropriate to overrule that opinion in its entirety and restore administrative closure pending the reconsideration of the 2020 rule through notice-and-comment rule-making, which will 'afford all interested parties a full and fair opportunity to participate and ensure that the relevant facts and analysis are collected and evaluated,'" Garland wrote.
Garland argued the move will permit judges to close cases to focus on other more pressing cases.
"It has been used, for example, to pause cases while the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) adjudicates a noncitizen's pending visa petition, or a noncitizen facing removal on criminal grounds pursues direct appeal or post-conviction relief in criminal court," Garland wrote.
The opinion will allow administration officials to ask judges to take certain cases off the docket and "facilitate the exercise of prosecutorial discretion."
The Trump administration rule enacted in his final full month in office did not go through the proper process under the Administrative Procedure Act, according to Garland.
The DOJ has a "notice-and-comment" rule-making process that was ignored, Garland noted, but Fox News reported the opinion Thursday makes it unlikely the current administration will proceed with the rule-making process on dismissing deportation cases.
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