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Sessions seeks to expand power on immigration cases

Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears to be exploring a rule that would expand his judicial power, and that some say would allow him to drastically reshape federal immigration policy.

In a notice posted this fall, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced it is planning to propose a change to the circumstances in which the attorney general can take and rule on immigration cases.

Under past practice, immigration experts say attorney generals have only stepped in to affirm or overturn cases once the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has given a ruling. Such interventions by attorney generals have also been rare.

Under the new proposal, the attorney general could make rulings on immigration cases before they get to the BIA.

“It’s very disturbing,” said Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel at MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

He argued the proposed change, which was included in the fall semi-annual regulatory agenda released by the White House, would give the attorney general too much power.

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