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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
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.