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On November 17, 2022, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a decision that restored the ability for immigration judges to terminate removal proceedings in certain circumstances. The recently issued decision in Matter of Coronado Acevedo, 28 I&N Dec. 648 (A.G. 2022) overrules Matter of S-O-G- & F-D-B-, 27 I&N Dec. 462 (A.G. 2018), which held that "immigration judges have no inherent authority to terminate or dismiss removal proceedings." 27 I&N Dec. at 463.

When overruling Matter of S-O-G- & F-D-B-, Attorney General Garland noted that its holding "relied heavily upon Attorney General Session's prior opinion in Matter of Castro-Tum," which was vacated in 2021. Consequently, the precedential basis for the decision in Matter of S-O-G- & F-D-B- was "significantly eroded." 28 I&N Dec. 651.

The decision in Matter of Coronado Acevedo is significant because it restores the discretion for immigration judges to terminate removal proceedings in certain situations, such as "where the pendency of removal proceedings causes adverse immigration consequences for a respondent who must travel abroad to obtain a visa," or when "termination is necessary for the respondent to be eligible to seek immigration relief before USCIS." In addition to providing relief to individuals in removal proceedings who have a pathway towards obtaining legal status, the Coronado Acevedo decision will also help reduce immigration court backlogs and promote efficiency.

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