Hernandez-Serrano v. Barr, No. 20-3175 (6th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
In 2015, Hernandez-Serrano, age 16, entered the U.S. without inspection and was placed in removal proceedings. A year later, a Tennessee juvenile court made findings that rendered Hernandez-Serrano potentially eligible for “Special Immigrant Juvenile” status, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(27)(J), for which he applied. Hernandez-Serrano unsuccessfully sought administrative closure of his removal case pending a decision. In 2018, the IJ ordered Hernandez-Serrano removed to El Salvador. Hernandez-Serrano appealed to the BIA. Weeks later, his application for Special Immigrant Juvenile status was granted. Hernandez-Serrano challenged only the IJ’s denial of his motion for administrative closure, The BIA denied his motion, holding that the IJ lacked authority to close Hernandez-Serrano’s case administratively under 8 C.F.R. 1003.10, 1003.1(d) as interpreted in a 2018 Attorney General decision that “immigration judges and the Board do not have the general authority to suspend indefinitely immigration proceedings by administrative closure.”
The Sixth Circuit denied relief. The authority of IJs to take certain actions “[i]n deciding the individual cases before them” does not delegate general authority not to decide those cases at all. The court noted that in more than 400,000 cases in which an alien was charged with being subject to removal, IJs or the BIA have closed cases administratively, removing them from the docket without further proceedings absent some persuasive reason to reopen it. As of October 2018, more than 350,000 of those cases had not been reopened. “Adjudicatory default on that scale strikes directly at the rule of law.”
The court issued a subsequent related opinion or order on April 7, 2022.