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Because of the implementation of key management objectives that were pending February 1, 1975, when I became Chairman, we do not anticipate difficulty in keeping up with our current caseload. Specifically, the management objectives implemented include the clarification of the roles and responsibilities of the Chairman, Board Members and the Executive Assistant/Chief Attorney Examiner, through the promulgation of regulations. A much needed Administrative Officer was added to our staff. The attorney adviser staff has been increased to 16, with most of the new attorneys having been recruited through the Attorney General's Honors Program. We have initiated training programs for attorneys, both in house and at Georgetown University Law Center in immigration law. They have also attended hearings held before Immigration Judges. Our method of case circulation was changed, in that cases are now assigned directly to staff attorneys for preparation of a proposed draft opinion. Where appropriate, short orders in the nature of per curiam decisions are utilized. Considerable time and expense has further been saved through the utilization of word processing equipment. A law librarian was employed and utilized to establish and maintain a standard legal index of Board decisions and Court decisions, and a control docket system was established for the purpose of identifying and locating the precise status of all cases pending before this Board.
There is no foreseeable increase in the number of cases anticipated in the current fiscal year. The Committee will, I believe, recognize the difficulty of estimating the Board's workload since the number of appeals depends entirely upon the nature of the decisions rendered by the various Immigration and Naturalization Service District Directors and Immigration Judges and the reactions of the parties to these decisions.
As a matter of interest to this Committee, I would point out that in October, 1977, responsibility for the publication and distribution of the Board's precedent decisions, known as Interim Decisions or I.D.'s, was transferred from the Service to the Board. This operation covers the preparation of both the looseleaf advance sheets and, ultimately, the bound volumes starting with Volume 16. The previous time lag for distribution was from six to nine months from the date of decision. We have succeeded in streamlining the operation to the extent that precedent decisions are now in the hands of Government users within 30 days of their actual designation for publication. Our updated circulation list contains 241 subscribers who receive 1,048 copies of these decisions.
I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.
Mr. MILHOLLAN. I do thank you for the opportunity to appear here today.
Very briefly, as the committee knows, the Board performs a quasijudicial function in providing in all but a very few cases the final administrative remedy for the review of certain decisions of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
The vast majority of appeals involve orders of deportation rendered in formal due-process hearings by immigration judges across the Nation.
The Board also determines appeals in exclusion cases, visa-petition cases, and administrative-fine proceedings. The Board interprets the . immigration laws, establishes guidelines for the exercise of the Attorney General's discretion in conjunction with relief from deportation, and strives to carry out the congressional mandate that the immigration laws receive uniform and consistent application throughout the United States.
Because of the implementation of key management objectives, we really don't anticipate difficulty in keeping up with our current caseload. There is no foreseeable increase in the number of cases that the Board does receive. However, I believe the committee realizes we do have a difficulty in estimating the number of cases we will have, since that depends on the number of appeals that are filed by parties to a proceeding.
That will conclude my statement, Mr. Chairman. I will be very happy to answer questions.
Chairman RODINO. Thank you very much.
The gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Eilberg.
Mr. EILBERG. Mr. Chairman, I had intended to ask this question of Commissioner Castillo, and I wonder if our present guest would be able to give us his reaction.
During our subcommittee hearings we discussed two recent court cases which could result in the admission of perhaps 200,000 to 400,000 aliens without regard to the numerical limitations set forth in our immigration law. In one case the Justice Department withdrew an appeal to the circuit court. The other case was settled at the district level.
Can you discuss the general terms of the nature of the cooperation between INS, the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, and the attorneys who are actually litigating these cases?
Mr. MILHOLLAN. I am sorry, I do not know if you are referring-
Mr. MILHOLLAN. I am sorry, I cannot answer that question. Mr. EILBERG. In your authorization request, you estimate your workload will remain the same for fiscal years 1978, 1979, and 1980 as it was in fiscal 1977. How did you arrive at that estimate?
Mr. MILHOLLAN. Only by going over our past records and considering the fact there have not been any major changes in the law, which could affect our caseload substantially. There appears to have been somewhat of a leveling off of the number of appeals that we have received. Accordingly, we used the same figures.
Mr. EILBERG. This committee has approved legislation creating a separate bankruptcy court similar to the tax court. The President of the National Association of Immigration Judges has proposed that an independent immigration court be created as well. What is your opinion of such a proposal?
Mr. MILHOLLAN. Well, the immigration judges are in an altogether different position than the Board, in that they are a part of the Immigration Service, which has in part the function of enforcement. Combining the quasi-judicial functions of immigration judges with an enforcement agency, creates an aura of perhaps not total independence. That is a problem which the Board itself has not had to face. We are, of course, separate entirely from the Immigration Service, but we are under the general guidance of the Attorney General.
Over the years, the Board has been fortunate, so far as I know, over many years of never having had any interference from various Attorneys General. And as a result, the Board does have total independ
But there is no question about it, under the regulations there is supervision by the Attorney General, and accordingly, it may be desirable to consider a totally independent immigration court.
Mr. EILBERG. The president of the National Association of U.S. Immigration Judges has stated to this committee the BIA disposes of cases before it by remanding the cases back to the judges without disposing of the appellate issue. Will you please comment on this?
Mr. MILHOLLAN. Well, I can only say generally, since I do not know what cases are being referred to, we address issues that are presented to us. But, of course, if additional evidence is needed to clarify those issues, we will not make a ruling on the case prior to the submission of all the evidence.
Mr. EILBERG. Do you have any legislation recommendations to make to the Congress with respect to the Board of Immigration Appeals, or can you suggest any areas which we should study for possible legislative actions?
Mr. MILHOLLAN. Only the one that has been referred to, and that is the possible establishment of an immigration court.
Mr. EILBERG. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman RODINO. The gentleman from New York, Mr. Fish. Mr. FISH. Mr. Chairman, I join in welcoming Mr. Milhollan. If the chairman of the subcommittee would like my time for further questioning, I will be delighted to yield to him.
Mr. EILBERG. In view of the shortness of time, Mr. Chairman, I think we ought to go forward and dispose of the principal questions. We are prepared to submit the additional questions in writing. Mr. FISH. I yield back the balance of my time.
Chairman RODINO. The gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Railsback. Mr. RAILSBACK. No questions.
Chairman RODINO. The gentleman from California, Mr. Edwards. Mr. EDWARDS. What is the breakdown of these cases? Fiscal 1977, you docketed 2,500 cases. From what countries-the largest percentage of cases are alien from what countries?
Mr. MILHOLLAN. I do not have those figures, Congressman. Although we could get those figures by going through our various orders, it would be extremely difficult. We docket cases in accordance with the type of case that is, as opposed to the particular country from which the alien comes. I believe Immigration and Naturalization Service may have those figures, however.
Mr. EDWARDS. You say would you guess most of them involve Mexican nationals?
Mr. MILHOLLAN. No, sir, I would not necessarily say that, since many of the cases involving Mexican nationals do not reach the Board. They are wiped out before they get into litigation, so to speak. As a result, our cases are a combination of cases involving the nationals from all around the world.
Mr. EDWARDS. Thank you.
Chairman RODINO. The gentleman from South Carolina.
Mr. DANIELSON. I have no questions, Your Honor.
Chairman RODINO. The gentlelady from Texas, Ms. Jordan.
Ms. JORDAN. One question: Is there anything in the law makes it difficult for you to proceed with expedition on those matters referred to you? Or can you make any suggestion, if the answer to the first question is yes, can you make any suggestion about any further action which might facilitate and expedite decisions by your Board?
Mr. MILHOLLAN. The only regulation which comes to mind is one which gives the parties, the alien, a right to oral argument. We may
see cases which we believe to not warrant oral argument, and yet oral argument is requested. Of course, then we have to docket it for oral argument. But, quite frankly, there are not too many of those cases that do appear, and even the timelag for oral argument is not generally more than 30 days, or at the most 60 days. It really has not been a problem to us.
It has been one that I have considered, however. We could address that; namely, should the alien be entitled as a matter of right under the regulations to oral argument? Once we addressed it, we might conclude, however, that it is just not enough of a problem to deny that right to aliens.
Ms. JORDAN. You are quasi-judicial in nature, if I understand correctly the function that you perform.
Mr. MILHOLLAN. Yes, madam.
Ms. JORDAN. You observe all of the elements of due process which would be observed in a judicial setting?
Mr. MILHOLLAN. That is correct.
Ms. JORDAN. Thank you. No further questions.
Commissioner, I have no questions, but I do want to commend you, because I believe you have done a very fine and commendable job in bringing your caseload up to date and having instituted innovative methods of dealing with the workload. I think all in all it is the kind of performance that all of us appreciate and wish to commend you for. We want to thank you very much.
If there are any more questions on the part of the committee that they would like to present to you in writing, we would hope that you would respond to them.
Thank you very much. That concludes this morning's hearing.
Tomorrow the committee will meet at 9:30, hear from the Federal prison system, U.S. Parole Commission, and the Pardon Attorney. [Whereupon, the hearing was adjourned, to reconvene at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, March 15, 1978.]