Introduction to the Interactive Benchbook for Immigration Judges
A. Mission of the Interactive Benchbook
The goal of the immigration judge in every proceeding
is to issue a clear, concise and well-reasoned decision at the conclusion
of the proceedings. The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)
was directed in 2006 to develop templates and resource materials to
assist the nation’s Immigration Judges in attaining this goal.
This interactive book merges solid legal reasoning and authority with
available technology to meet that directive. From its debut at the
2007 Annual Immigration Judge Conference, the Benchbook has been reorganized
and redesigned to increase utility. It is emphasized that the reference
to templates represent only suggested approaches for dealing with
certain cases that may present themselves before you. Prior to rendering
decisions, Judges should first check the applicable law and requirements
of their circuit.
B. Contents of the Interactive Benchbook
The homepage of the interactive Benchbook includes
five buttons or links and at times will have a sixth button that contains
time sensitive information:
1. Welcome to the Benchbook
2. Tools for the IJ
3. Legal Resources
6. Benchbook Updates
The “Welcome to the Benchbook” link contains
an interactive film with an explanation of the history of the IJ Benchbook,
how it has been revised as well as how to use it.
The “Tools for the IJ” link contains
scripts, introductory guides, checklists, worksheets and forms as
well as sample IJ orders.
The “Legal Resources” link contains a
complete variety of legal resources from the BIA, circuit specific
authorities, an aggravated felony case summary outline and an asylum
credibility outline by circuit. This link will be updated continually
to provide additional resources as they become available.
The “Templates” link includes an interactive
template that can be used by a judge in building their clear, concise
and well-reasoned decision. The generic template includes links to
law specific templates that address a particular area of substantive
law, textual links to well-established and commonly accepted principles
of immigration law referred to as “standard language,”
and links to a variety of legal resources to assist one in crafting
The “Alerts” link contains information
on new OPPMs, updates on widely used immigration materials as well
as legal, regulatory and policy changes that affect IJs.
The “Benchbook Updates” link when utilized
will advise judges of when the interactive benchbook has been updated.
This link will not appear at all times. Once and update has been posted,
it will become a permanent part of the benchbook Judges are advised
to check the benchbook often to see what has been updated since their
C. Using the Benchbook
The interactive Benchbook is not designed to influence
how a Judge decides a case or even to suggest a particular path to
follow in resolving a case. All findings of fact and conclusions of
law remain within the sole purview and responsibility of the Immigration
It is important to note that no Benchbook or resource
database can cover all of the factual situations and legal questions
that arise in immigration courts. This Benchbook is not meant to be
a stand-alone resource for addressing all questions pending before
an Immigration Judge. Rather, it is a portal through which one can
begin the journey for the correct answer on an issue in a case. There
is no substitute for careful and thorough legal research which includes
indepently checking all sources, citations, and authorities to make
certain that they are applicable in the user’s jurisdiction.
It is again stressed that a Judge should check the applicable law
in their circuit prior to rendering a decision.
D. Work In Progress
Please keep in mind that this interactive Immigration
Judge Benchbook is an innovative attempt to merge solid legal reasoning
with the latest technology and in so doing support the nation’s
Immigration Judges in the job that they do every day. The Benchbook
was designed by Immigration Judges in collaboration with others for
use by Immigration Judges. As with any new technological endeavor,
needed changes and improvements are already ongoing as evidenced by
this first revision undertaken in 2008. It is the hope of the Benchbook
Committee that this interactive Benchbook will be a useful tool to
assist Immigration Judges in continuing their duties in the immigration
courts of this country on a daily basis.