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May 2007

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This article is in the news archives --- for current news go to the Third Branch News.


BIA Appeals Still Significant Part of Federal Appellate Caseload

Administrative agency appeals involving the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) remained a significant part of federal appellate courts’ caseloads in 2006, accounting for 17 percent of 63,676 total appeals.

The BIA appeals come at the end of a lengthy legal process. An alien first has his or her case heard by a judge in one of the immigration courts overseen by the Department of Justice, and then can appeal to the BIA, followed by an appeal to the federal court of appeals. Which of the 12 regional appellate courts handles the appeal is based on the location of the immigration court where the case was first heard.

The number of BIA appeals filed in federal courts dropped to 10,750 in 2006, a 16 percent decrease from the 12,873 filed in 2005 and the first decline in five years. The number of total federal appeals dropped 9 percent in 2006, from the 70,003 filed in 2005.

BIA appeals as a percentage of total appeals dropped slightly, from 18 percent in 2005 to 17 percent in 2006. As in previous years, in 2006 the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Second and Ninth Circuits handled the bulk of BIA appeals—2,486 and 5,166, respectively. BIA appeals accounted for 37 percent of the total appeals filed in each of those courts last year.

Nationwide, BIA appeals have soared 555 percent since 2001, when they represented just 3 percent of all federal appeals. The huge increase initially was in response to the reorganization of the BIA in 2002, when new case review guidelines and processing time standards were instituted. But the growth in appeals of BIA decisions continued in federal courts as the board received and completed more cases.