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Bloggings On Updates In Immigration Law

by Carl Shusterman

October 27, 2010

"New" EOIR Website: What's New Except the Design?

On October 20, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) rolled out its new website.

The EOIR is composed of the (1) Immigration Courts; (2) Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the (3) Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO).

The EOIR announced the coming of the new website in a press release dated October 19.  The agency stated as follows:

"The EOIR website has been a prominent site for respondents, representatives, nongovernmental organizations, the press, and the public to gain updated information about the agency. The new site offers a clean design that mirrors the look and feel of the U.S. Department of Justice’s website and offers significant improvement in regard to navigation and functionality.

Features include an Action Center with tools for visitors to find a representative, an immigration court, and a free legal service provider. The public may also submit a complaint regarding an immigration judge online and review statistics related to all complaints received. The new site also provides prominently placed links to the practice manuals for the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge and Board of Immigration Appeals, immigration-related forms, the Immigration Judge Benchbook, and the Virtual Law Library."  

The look of the new website mirrors that of the Justice Department's website, of which the EOIR website is a subsection.  

The content of the website is largely the same as the old EOIR website.  It contains such helpful features as the:

1) Immigration Courts Practice Manual - This is a useful guide for persons who practice in the Immigration Courts;

2) The BIA Practice Manual - This guides persons who practice before the BIA;

3) The Virtual Law Library - This useful feature contains links to both of the above guides as well as to the latest precedent decisions, Federal Register notices, Immigration Judge Benchbook and much more.  One can subscribe and receive e-mails from the EOIR whenever there is a new precedent decision, a new Immigration Judge is sworn-in or presides over a naturalization ceremony, or the list of disciplined private practitioners is updated.

Unfortunately, despite the new website, it appears that the EOIR webmaster does not regularly check to see that all of the links are working and are up-to-date.  For example, click on "Related Links" in the upper right hand corner of the Virtual Law Library and you will see that the link to the State Department's Visa Bulletin is broken.  Also,  there is a link to the State Department's "2008 Human Rights Report" even though the 2009 version of the report has been online since last March. The same applies to the link to the State Department's 2008 Report on International Religious Freedom.

The site allows readers to download copies of EOIR forms and instructions for free and provides contact information for Immigration Courts across the country as well as to EOIR headquarters.

The EOIR Action Center allows readers to:

1) File Complaints Against individual Immigration Judges;

2) Find a Representative;

3) Find an Immigration Court; and

4) Find a Free Immigration Provider.

Some of the above information is misleading.  For example, the reference to "free" immigration providers is misleading since the providers listed are not free, and there is no real quality control over who is listed. 

One new feature is a slide show regarding Immigration Judge Complaint statistics received from October 1, 2009 and September 30, 2010.  EOIR received 166 complaints concerning 88 Judges.  Of the 152 complaints which have been resolved, 52 was dismissed, 21 were "concluded" due to the Judge's retirement or resignation, 78 resulted in unspecified "Informal Actions" and only 2 involved "Disciplinary Actions" which include reprimands, suspensions and removals.

In the past, we have noted the EOIR website is difficult to navigate because it has no site map or search engine.  Unfortunately, the new site does little to resolve these issues.  Since the search engine is for the entire Justice Department website, it is less than helpful for finding specific information on the EOIR subsection of the site. Likewise, the site map applies to the entire Justice Department website.

The Justice Department has its own Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter pages, but if any of these pages contain any information about the EOIR, we were unable to find it.

All in all, despite the new and improved look, the content on the new EOIR website remains largely the same.