Matter of L-A-B-R- et al., 27 I&N Dec. 245 (A.G. 2018): When Can Continuance Be Granted to Adjudicate Collateral Matter?

Introduction: Matter of L-A-B-R- et al., 27 I&N Dec. 245 (A.G. 2018)

On March 22, 2018, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions referred multiple decisions of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to himself for review in Matter of L-A-B-R- et al., 27 I&N Dec. 245 (A.G. 2018) [PDF version]. In the decision, the Attorney General requested briefing of issues relating to when there is “good cause” to grant a continuance of proceedings to allow for adjudication of a collateral matter.

In this article, we will briefly explain the questions presented and what it may mean going forward.

Referral

Under 8 C.F.R. 1003.1(h)(1)(i), the Attorney General may direct the Board to refer to him any of its decisions for review. In the instant case, Attorney General Sessions exercised this authority. The Board's decision(s) in the matter are stayed pending the review of the Attorney General, in accord with Matter of Haddam, A.G. Order No. 2380-2001 (Jan. 19, 2001) [PDF version see 23 I&N Dec. 700, 701-04].

Issue

Under 8 C.F.R. 1003.29 (2017), an Immigration Judge is authorized to “grant a motion for continuance for good cause shown.” In the cases at issue in Matter of L-A-B-R- et al, Attorney General Sessions explained that “Immigration Judges granted continuances to provide time for respondents to seek adjudications of collateral matters from other authorities.”

Accordingly, the Attorney General requested briefs on the following question:

Under what circumstances does 'good cause' exist for an Immigration Judge to grant a continuance for a collateral matter to be adjudicated?

Briefing Schedule

The parties must submit briefs not exceeding 15,000 words on or before April 17, 2018;
Interested amici (friends of the court) may submit briefs of up to 9,000 words on or before April 24, 2018; and
The parties may submit rely briefs of up to 6,000 words on or before May 2, 2018.

Conclusion

Matter of L-A-B-R- et al marks the fourth time in the first three months of 2018 that Attorney General Sessions has referred decisions of the BIA to himself for review. It is the third of the four to request briefing on a specific issue for the issuance of a later decision.

The regulations do not specify when a party may show good cause for granting a continuance to allow for a collateral matter to be adjudicated. Thus, Attorney General Sessions requested briefing on what constitutes a showing of a “good cause” for the granting of a continuance to adjudicate a collateral matter. The issue will be worth watching going forward due to its potential procedural effect on immigration proceedings generally.

An individual facing removal proceedings should consult with an experienced immigration attorney for guidance throughout the entire process.