I once heard about an Admiral during WWII who described carrier warfare as hours of boredom punctuated by moments of terror. That is a bit like how I think of appeals to the Board of Immigration Appeals.
First, you file your appeal. Nothing happens for a couple months.
Then, the transcript arrives. You theoretically have 21 days to write the brief. However, by the time you receive the transcript, a few days have passed. Plus, you have to make sure that the appeal brief is received by the Board no later than day 21, so you have to mail it early. Thus, you actually have about 15 or 16 days to write the brief. Of course, the transcript always arrives when you are about to leave for vacation or when you have three individual hearings to prepare for, so the 15 or 16 days is not enough. You can ask for one extension (which seems to be granted as a matter of course), so you can realistically gain a total of about 36 or 37 days to prepare the brief.
After the brief is filed, you will then wait one to two years for a decision.
So my question is: Since these appeals take so long anyway, why are we given such little time to prepare a brief?
Perhaps limiting the time for the alien to submit a brief is a way of stopping her from dragging out her final removal date. But given the one to two year (or more) time frame for these appeals, is another few weeks going to make much difference?
There is, of course, a downside to limiting the time for the brief: Given most attorneys’ busy schedules, it is difficult to do our best work when we have insufficient time to write the brief, particularly if we are unlucky enough to have the transcript and briefing schedule arrive at a bad time (which always seems to happen).
The obvious solution is to extend the time for filing the brief. Federal appeals courts (at least where I practice) generally give about 45 days to file the brief. Lower courts usually give at least 30 days. All these courts grant extensions where warranted. At a minimum, the BIA should initially grant six weeks to file the brief; at least this would save lawyers the time and uncertainty of having to ask for a three-week extension.
With more time, we can expect better briefs–not only from the private bar, but also from DHS. I imagine this would result in better BIA decisions. There is really no good reason for such short deadlines with the BIA. The Board should consider extending the time for filing briefs.
Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com.
Jason Dzubow's practice focuses on immigration law, asylum, and appellate litigation. Mr. Dzubow is admitted to practice law in the federal and state courts of Washington, DC and Maryland, the United States Courts of Appeals for the Third, Fourth, Eleventh, and DC Circuits, all Immigration Courts in the United States, and the Board of Immigration Appeals. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the Capital Area Immigrant Rights (CAIR) Coalition. In June 2009, CAIR Coalition honored Mr. Dzubow for his Outstanding Commitment to Defending the Rights and Dignity of Detained Immigrants.