Immigration policy and the volume of immigration cases have received significant attention in the media in recent months and years. While not a subject of media frenzy, opportunities for both attorneys and non-attorneys to represent participants in immigration proceedings are worthy of note by both Juris Doctor (JD) and Executive Juris Doctor (EJD) graduates. (For a general introduction to the opportunities in administrative litigation for lawyers and non-lawyers alike, see the post "Opportunities for JDs and EJDs in Administrative Litigation: An Overview."
The Justice Department's Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) adjudicates immigration cases through its 57 Immigration Courts nationwide. EOIR primarily decides whether foreign-born individuals who are charged by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) with violating immigration law should be ordered removed from the United States or should be granted relief or protection from removal and be permitted to remain in this country. Immigration Court matters include cases (deportation, exclusion, removal, credible fear review, reasonable fear review, claimed status review, asylum only, rescission, continued detention review, Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act, and withholding only); bond redeterminations; and motions to reopen, reconsider, or recalendar. Immigration Court decisions can be appealed to EOIR's Board of Immigration Appeals.
U.S. Immigration Courts are experiencing a huge and growing backlog of cases waiting to be heard. As of 2016, the removal (deportation) case backlog alone was more than half a million cases. Aspiring representatives should be aware that by far the largest backlogs are in California, Texas, and New York.
Petitions for asylum make up the bulk of non-deportation cases heard by the Immigration Courts. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2015, out of 45,000 asylum petitions received, 8,246 were granted and 8,833 denied, with the status of the remaining positions listed as abandoned, withdrawn, or other.
For several years, the number of asylum cases declined. However, the number of cases has risen sharply in the last 5 years. According to a 2016 report by the Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are now well over 100,000 cases awaiting resolution, and this number continues to grow.
8 C.F.R. 1292.1 addresses who may represent individuals entitled to representation. Five categories of representatives are permitted, two of which are relevant to Concord Law School JDs or EJDs:
- "Accredited Representative," i.e., a person representing an organization described in 8 C.F.R. 1292.2 who has been accredited by the Board. Section 1292 defines "organization" for this purpose as "a non-profit religious, charitable, social service, or similar organization established in the United States and recognized as such by the Board." Such an organization may designate a representative or representatives to practice before the Immigration Courts and Board of Immigration Appeals provided that the organization establishes to the satisfaction of the Board that: (1) it makes only nominal charges and assesses no excessive membership dues for persons given assistance; and (2) it has at its disposal adequate knowledge, information, and experience.
The Board maintains an alphabetical roster of recognized organizations and their accredited representatives. The roster provides an excellent targeted list of prospective employers that aspiring administrative litigators might want to target in a job search. It can be accessed at: http://www.justice.gov/eoir/ra/raroster_orgs_reps.htm.
The largest such employers are:
- Catholic Charities, with offices throughout the U.S.
- World Relief, Modesto, Sacramento, & Garden Grove, CA; Treasure Valley, ID; Aurora, Chicago, Wheaton, & Moline, IL; Miami, Jacksonville, & Tampa, FL; Fort Worth, TX; Nashville, TN; Stone Mountain, GA; Richfield, MN; Richland, Kent, & Spokane, WA; and High Point, NC.
- Church World Services, Durham & Greensboro, NC; Lancaster, PA; and Doral, FL.
- CUNY Citizenship Now!, Bronx, Flushing, Brooklyn, Jamaica, & New York, NY.