TRUMP ADMINISTRATION IS CONSIDERING SIGNIFICANT INCREASE IN FEES TO APPEAL IMMIGRATION CASES

Written by: Taher Kameli, Esq.

It would not be a surprise to see that the Trump administration has simply decided to ban all immigration to the United States.  While such is not yet actually the case, it seems that, with its continuing policies that are adverse to immigrant rights, the Trump administration is moving in that direction.  As another potential example of the anti-immigration policies of the Trump administration, the Trump administration is considering a significant increase in the fees to appeal immigration cases.

As reported by buzzfeednews.com on September 17, the Trump administration (from the Department of Justice) has proposed a draft regulation that immigrants pay $975 to request an appeal of an immigration judge’s ruling and $895 to request that a case be reopened or reconsidered with the Board of Immigration Appeals.  These fees represent a significant increase from the current fee for each of these requests of $110. It is believed that immigrants would still be able to apply for a fee waiver under the regulation.

A spokesperson for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, an office in the Department of Justice, stated, “DOJ generally does not confirm or comment on media speculation about regulations.  Notably, however, despite inflation and rising administrative costs, EOIR fees have remained the same since 1986 – despite increases in fees across many other areas of the federal government over the same period”.  

The importance of this potential fee increase is heightened both because the number of appeals of immigration cases under the Trump administration has increased to more than 30,000 appeals in the 2018 fiscal year, and, as there are currently over 1,000,000 cases backlogged in the immigration courts (as reported by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse), the number of appeals of immigration cases will likely only increase in the near future.

Needless to say, given a potential increase of more than 700 percent in the fees to appeal immigration cases, the report of the draft regulation drew strong criticism.  Rebecca Jamil, a former immigration judge in San Francisco, stated, “They are essentially depriving people of the right to appeal – that is big money. It’s a substantial increase of fees that’s beyond the reach of people. . . . This feels like the fees are being increased as obstacles for aliens to access the courts. . . . That’s where it becomes problematic”.  Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute, stated, “The administration has not put an emphasis on the due process of immigrants – these fees seem to be in light with that pattern. . . . I absolutely think this will deter people from appealing decisions, even if they are unjust”.      

If ultimately issued, this regulation would not be immediately enacted, but would be subject to a 60-day comment period.  Based on the above critical comments, it is likely that any such regulation dramatically increasing the fees to appeal immigration cases would be challenged in litigation.     

There is no doubt that the Trump administration, on many different issues, is creating a hostile environment for immigrant rights.  In such an environment, immigrants need to be represented by a skilled law firm, such as the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates, which has had years of experience and success in immigration law matters, to protect their immigrant rights.  If you need assistance on any immigration issue, please contact the Law Offices of Kameli and Associates, at taher@kameli.com or 312-233-1000, for representation.