Authority to Pay Witness Fees to Illegal Aliens


Aliens not legally entitled to be admitted to or reside in the United States who have been paroled for prosecution as defendants, who admit deportability, or who have been adjudged deportable under 8 U.S.C. § 1252(b), are not entitled to payment for appearing as witnesses in federal courts. 28 U.S.C. § 1821(e). However, aliens who are currently the subject of deportation proceedings but have not admitted deportability, or who have rendered themselves subject to deportation proceedings and do not admit deportability, are entitled to witness fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1821 in the amount of $30 per day.

Aliens determined to be excludable under 8 U.S.C. § 1226, whose removal has been stayed by the Attorney General so that they may testify on behalf of the United States or indigent criminal defendants, are entitled to witness fees in the amount of $1 per day. 8 U.S.C. § 1227(d); Rule 17(b), Fed. R. Crim. P.

Where the language of two or more appropriation accounts makes them equally available to pay certain expenses, and an administrative determination has been made to pay them out of one account rather than any other, Comptroller General rulings require the continued use of the appropriation account that has been selected. Accordingly, witness fees paid to excludable aliens pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1227(d) must in the future be made from the Department of Justice’s “Fees and Expenses of Witnesses” (FEW) appropriation, rather than from the Immigration and Naturalization Service appropriation, since such fees have in the past been paid from the FEW appropriation.

Updated July 9, 2014