Written Closing Arguments Before the Immigration Judge
Written closing arguments are similar to pre-hearing briefs insofar as they address all aspects of a removability challenge or claim for relief. However, closing arguments have the additional challenge of relying on your notes of the hearing to address credibility issues or other issues of contention.
Like pre-hearing briefs, written closing arguments fully address:
- • challenges to the charge(s) of removability,
- • eligibility for relief, i.e., 212(c), 237(a)(1)(H), Cancellation of Removal (continuous physical presence, possible criminal bar(s) to relief, exceptional and extremely unusual hardship), Adjustment of Status (was applicant “admitted”?, is applicant otherwise admissible or in need of a waiver or a request to reapply for admission?), or Asylum (one-year bar, particularly serious crime), or
- • full discussion of an asylum claim such as
- ◊ whether the application is timely filed or meets an exception to the one-year bar,
- ◊ the applicant’s credibility and any issues that may affect an applicant’s ability to testify at his or her interview such as post-traumatic stress disorder,
- ◊ past persecution suffered by the applicant or, if no past persecution, how past experiences and other evidence establishes a well-founded fear of future persecution,
- ◊ the protected ground(s) upon which the asylum claim is based and the existence of a nexus between the protected ground(s) and the persecution,
- ◊ particular social group definitions, if needed,
- ◊ whether the home government is unable or unwilling to protect the applicant
- ◊ whether the applicant can internally relocate, and
- ◊ whether the application should be granted asylum in the exercise of discretion.
Written closing arguments are an excellent way to make the Immigration Judge’s job easier. It is not unusual, in IMMLAC’s experience, for Immigration Judges to read sections of a written closing argument directly into his or her decision. A written closing argument also provides an excellent framework for an appeal brief, if that becomes necessary.
Is it possible to prepare a closing argument before your individual hearing. For instance, if you did not have time to prepare a pre-hearing brief, but have a strong case and are confident that your client will testify consistently with his or her evidence, IMMLAC strongly suggests you prepare a closing argument before the hearing. Again, it is much easier for an Immigration Judge to read from a written closing argument then to create an oral decision based on his or her notes and recollection of the testimony and evidence. This is particularly true if you have a lot of background country condition evidence. An Immigration Judge is not likely to cite that evidence, or perhaps even rely on it, in an oral decision. However, if that information is readily available in your closing argument and quickly accessible to the Immigration Judge, it will certainly bolster your position and your client’s chances for a favorable decision.