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AG Sessions issues Matter of Castro-Tum, restricting administrative closure

  1. Date Announced

    May 17, 2018

    AG Sessions rules in Matter of Castro-Tum that IJs and the BIA do not have the general authority to suspend cases indefinitely through administrative closure. IJs and the BIA may now administratively close a case only when authorized by regulation or a judicially-approved settlement. Further, Sessions held that only DHS has the authority to decide whether and when to initiate proceedings, and once DHS initiates proceedings, IJs and the BIA must "expeditiously" resolve the case. Upon a motion by either party, IJs and the BIA must recalendar any case that was administratively closed, unless the closure was required by regulation or settlement.

    [ID #168]

    See Biden administration action below.

    View Policy Document
  2. Effective Date of Change

    May 17, 2018
  3. Subsequent Action

    August 29, 2019

    On August 29, 2019, the Fourth Circuit struck down Matter of Castro-Tum, ruling that A.G. Sessions' interpretation of the relevant immigration regulations was "inconsistent" and "in error."

    Zuniga Romero v. Barr (4th Cir. 8-29-19)
  4. Subsequent Action

    June 26, 2020

    On June 26, 2020, the Seventh Circuit struck down Matter of Castro-Tum, finding that immigration judges have the discretion to administratively close cases when appropriate, and ruling in favor of a Mexican citizen who had been ordered deported while waiting for his visa request to be processed under the decision.

    Meza Morales v. Barr, No. 19-1999 (7th Cir. 2020)
  5. Subsequent Action

    May 5, 2021

    On May 5, 2021, the Third Circuit struck down Matter of Castro-Tum, ruling that the BIA and IJs do have the authority to administratively close proceedings and remanded the specific case for further proceedings.

    Arcos Sanchez v. Attorney General, No. 20-1843 (3rd Cir., May 5, 2021).
  6. Biden Administration Action

    July 15, 2021

    This Biden administration policy revokes in its entirety the Trump-era policy identified in this entry.

    On July 15, 2021, Attorney General Garland decided Matter of Cruz-Valdez, which overruled Matter of Castro-Tum in its entirety and stipulated that, while rulemaking proceeds and provided that a court of appeals has not held otherwise, immigration judges and the Board should apply the administrative closure standards set forth in Matter of Avetisyan and Matter of W-Y-U.

    2021.07.15 Matter of Cruz-Valdez
Status: Final/Actual
Type of Action: Adjudication
Subject Matter: Hearings and Adjudications
Agencies Affected: EOIR AG USCIS ICE

Prior Policies

  • Matter of Avetisyan gave immigration judges discretion to administratively close a case until the case is ripe for final adjudication. This included situations such as: the future availability of an immigrant visa; current eligibility for TPS, DACA, or DED; and anticipation of a criminal matter being resolved before another court. From October 2011 through September 2017, IJs closed more than 215,000 cases, which was about three-quarters of the number closed in a 31-year span before 2011, according to the Department of Justice. (Huffington Post article)

    Matter of Avetisyan, 25 I&N Dec. 688 (BIA 2012)

Subsequent Actions

Biden Administration Action


HuffPost: Jeff Sessions Uses Exceptional Power Over Immigration Courts To Limit Judges’ Authority

Go to article

AIC / ACLU: Administrative Closure Post-Castro-Tum

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