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Valarezo-Tirado v. US AG: Immigration Judges Must Give Reasons for Their Decisions

— March 14, 2022

It is a shame the immigration courts are satisfied with incomplete rushed decisions by judges with no background or understanding of immigration law.

In Valarezo-Tirado v. Attorney General of the United States, decided on July 15, 2021, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, granted Mr. Valarezo-Tirado’s Petition for Review because the Immigration Judge did not provide an adequate explanation for her decision denying his application. 

The petitioner, Mr. Valarezo-Tirado, fled Ecuador after a neighbor threatened him with a gun rather than pay for his services and the police strongly discouraged him from filing a report. Upon his arrival to the United States, an asylum officer conducted a Reasonable Fear Interview and found him to be credible but concluded that he had not experienced persecution. 

“Given the IJ’s less-than-terse explanation of her denial of CAT relief, it becomes necessary to again stress that ‘the availability of judicial review…necessarily contemplates something for us to review.” The immigration judge or Board of Immigration Appeals must explain its decision with clarity as to be understandable. The IJ in this case, only provided a bullet point list in an attempt to explain her decision, which compelled the Court to remand the file back to the Immigration Judge to explain her reasons. Only after she explains her reasons may the Court engage in a review of whether those reasons were supported by credible evidence in the record. 

While this is just one case, it demonstrates the massive flaws systemic throughout the immigration courts. There are multiple failures and imperfections through the immigration court system, many of which are highlighted by this case and the court’s comments. “We cannot give meaningful review to a decision in which an IJ does not explain how it came to its conclusion.” 

This raises the question, Why wouldn’t an immigration judge properly explain the reasons for her decision? The answer is a combination of factors: (1) there are too many cases in the court system (and multiple factors causing this overload), (2) the court administration is more concerned with concluding cases than providing fair hearings and explanations, (3) the Trump administration appointed hoards of judges who have no experience in immigration law, who were rushed into the courtrooms without proper training and instructions to conclude cases as quickly as possible with as many deportations as possible, and the list of reasons for the terrible administration of law in the immigration courts goes on. Thankfully, immigration court proceedings may eventually be challenged in the Circuit courts, as it was in this case.

Gavel; photo by Sora Shimazaki from
Gavel; photo by Sora Shimazaki from

“We will not permit crowded dockets or a backlog of cases to excuse an IJ or the BIA from providing a meaningful explanation of why someone has been denied relief under the asylum laws or the CAT.” It is a shame the immigration courts are satisfied with incomplete rushed decisions by judges with no background or understanding of immigration law, but at least the federal court system is available to review the immigration court’s failures and try to hold it to a higher standard than it holds itself. 

The Law Office of Eric M. Mark is a small law office with lawyers who focus only on immigration law and criminal defense. The lawyers in the office spend great amounts of time monitoring the decisions by the Board of Immigration Appeals and the circuit courts so the lawyers will be on top of all changes in caselaw, good and bad.

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